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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Sunday, 8 February 2004

Topic: Election Notes

Why We Fight - The Evolving Consensus View for Perplexed Americans

David Gelernter is a professor of computer science at Yale University and a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard. That publication is often called "The Bible of the Neoconservative Movement" - what with Kristol and Kagan and the rest pretty much explaining the Cheney-Wolfowitz vision, which Bush fronts when he's not napping. The Weekly Standard is our guide to why things are as they are, and as they should be.

Today Gelernter lays out the latest version of the Bush Doctrine (version 3.5 by now) and we need to get behind this one, or at least understand it. We put these guys in office - so we are accountable for this doctrine. We own it.

In a syndicated column that I caught in the Los Angeles Times but is probably available elsewhere, Gelernter explains it all to us.

See The Happy Error: It took phantom WMD to rid the world of a great evil.
David Gelernter, The Los Angeles Times, Sunday, February 08, 2004

Here's the opening, the set-up:
Thank God for those phantom Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Politically, they are a nonissue. Morally, they are an amazing piece of luck. Strategically, they are a guide to the future. The missing WMD were not merely an honest mistake; they were a providential mistake.

Saddam Hussein was the slaughterer of his own people, benefactor of Palestinian terrorism, enemy of the United States. But political realities here and abroad meant that all we could do was draw a bead on the man and tell him, in effect: Make our day. And he was so stupid, he did.

When do the informal, uncodified rules of international politics allow a foreign nation to invade, occupy and rebuild a monstrous tyranny? How does a dictator qualify for mandatory relocation? Not merely by unspeakable savagery to his own people. Not even by posing a threat to the prospective invader. He must be seen to pose a threat.
This of course is followed by a long history of recent events, indicating how threatening things seemed. This was not a view shared by any major governments but those of the UK and Australia, and not the view of the UN, nor of the UN weapons inspectors like Hans Blix and Scott Ritter who we pretty much labeled blind, incompetent fools.

Not important - all these folks were looking at the meager facts, not a how things seemed.

Yeah, yeah. So what does all this mean in term of future policy?

Here `tis ...
What happens now? We institutionalize the phantom-WMD maneuver. It was all a mistake, but it worked beautifully.

The end of the Cold War brought big changes to the moral universe. Any nation has a duty to alleviate suffering. Any totalitarian dictatorship is a threat to world stability and therefore to the United States. Yet the Hippocratic Oath applies: If forcibly removing a tyrant generates more net suffering than leaving him, leave him.

The end of the Cold War greatly expanded our scope of action and, therefore, our moral obligations. How do we react to our new, expanded duties? Today there are lots of tyrannized nations we could liberate without provoking world war. But we can't march into them all, all at once. What procedure do we follow?

The Bush method. We publish an official list of tyrants we consider it our moral duty to overthrow
. The implied next sentence is obvious: Give us an excuse and we'll do it. Play games with the U.N.; show us your true colors. Meanwhile, we might pray for the strange, accidental wisdom to make another providential mistake.
You get the idea. We have the moral duty to overthrow selected governments. And we really don't need facts about any threat. And this is how you get things done in the world - how you make things better.

Look for this in the upcoming campaign.

Posted by Alan at 08:53 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

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