Topic: World View
Discussing what is real and what is not. Contrasting rhetoric. Differing levels of discourse.
In a week when the polls shifted and now, for the first time, more than half of Americans (fifty-four percent) do not think this war was worth the costs incurred, it's time for some thinking.
The cost was in lives (over eight hundred and fifty and counting, with perhaps eleven thousand grievously wounded), in billions of dollars, in the good will of much of world that was once on our side, and in the loss of much of our credibility (we did get some things wrong even if we meant well and still maintain these things - WMD and links to al-Qaeda -might have been so).
We have come to tolerate, if not embrace, the idea that some of us can be tagged and locked up without charges forever, for the greater good, on one man's word. We have abused, if not tortured and murdered, those who might, or might not, have information - to protect ourselves, in spite of international laws to which we have agreed. Many think this is necessary. And now (late afternoon, June 25) UN human rights investigators have demanded access to prisoners held by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guant?namo Bay to check that international standards were being upheld. Don't they trust us?
No. They don't.
Are we the good guys? Of course.
Don't we stand for decency and the rule of law and fair play and all the rest? Of course.
What's the problem then?
Here are some voices.
Duke and Princeton: Robert O. Keohane is a professor of political science at Duke University. Anne-Marie Slaughter is dean of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and author of "A New World Order."
Bush's mistaken view of U.S. democracy
Robert O. Keohane and Anne-Marie Slaughter, The International Herald Tribune - Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Is that then the divide?
Dennis Prager is a prominent Jewish political commentator, widely ready on the right. He writes, mainly, on what is moral. He sees it another way.
Reduce it to its absolutes - either our country here is totally evil, or we're not, and thus we must be totally good. Choose one or the other.
Decided yet? Of course.
We're right. You're wrong. Nayh, nayh!
And do we even have a grasp of the situation?
I suggested to my friend Ric Erickson at MetropoleParis in the items he contributed to Just Above Sunset he was wrong. His May Day and D-Day items (here and here) must have been reporting Paris protests that didn't actually happen, or didn't represent the real truth about public opinion. And that Bush visit to the UK last year? We were lied to. By CNN and everyone else. The British people all supported this war and had no problem with Tony. They agree with Bush there. Always have. Germany has always been behind us on the Iraq business. Always. France disagreed on some matters, but they always voted with us. Don't you remember?
You see, Bush stopped off in Ireland on his was to that NATO summit in Istanbul - and he cleared this all up. They asked him a question. He answered. Clear enough.
Bush Says Europe Supports U.S. on Iraq
Shawn Pogatchnik, Associated Press Writer - Thursday, June 24, 2004 9:00 PM PDST (Friday in Europe)
If he says it, well, it must be true. And once again one is reminded of that famous line from Graucho Marx - "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes."
Bush is not delusional. He has proudly says he does not read the newspapers. He listens to what his staff tells him, because they are closer to actual events.
This just shows you cannot trust the media? You trust your leaders? Bush says most everyone WAS behind him and implies you can either trust him, or....
Ric shot back - "This is the leader of the funky Western World? I am wondering if this guy could be trusted to run a lemonade stand."
The next reaction was from my friend Joseph, also in France.
Of course it does,
Well, Dennis Prager may not be worth discussing. We get the idea. Yes, slowly realizing that almost everyone hates you can lead to that "noble martyr" crap. An easy trap. Or it can lead to thoughtful self-evaluation. But no one likes being uncomfortable - and the latter can be uncomfortable. Why bother? Other than trying to stay connected to reality.
Which way your react - proud and defensive or doubtful and introspective - is probably a function of your personal psychological make-up - having to do with your childhood and the culture in which you were raised, and probably with congenital and heredity factors, or maybe even your diet. Who knows? One might argue that if you react to discovering you are widely hated, and always now distrusted, with scornful pride, and this hatred and distrust only proves, conclusively, that you are right and good - well, one could argue that's a form of psychotic behavior, or at the very least a developmental disorder. There's a disconnect somewhere.
But this not particularly Jewish. Bill O'Reilly is a practicing Catholic - although for all the practice he hasn't gotten it right yet. Franken mocks Bill. Various lefties say awful things about him - and he revels in it.
As for Bush and what he knows about the world, I should look up the articles from his trip to the Asian summit last year where various people explained to him there might be demonstrations and things could get hot. He was startled. He actually had not heard of any demonstrations there, or of the previous ones in Europe protesting his war and his policies. He was also completely unaware of any public opinion polls, anywhere, showing the overwhelming public opposition to any of that. Well, there were more than a few. No one had told him. Similarly, a few months ago I came across an item where someone explained to him how Chalabi had been convicted of bank fraud in Jordan and had been sentenced, in absentia, to twenty-two years in prison and could not set foot in Jordan, Syria or Switzerland ever again. They said Bush was pissed off and demanded why no one told him.
True? Who knows?
But it seems likely. He likes to keep his focus on his own agenda.
This of course involves ignoring specific, pesky things for your greater idealistic purposes - and that can be dangerous.
Putting it more bluntly, Bob Harris says this - "Understanding the bad guys is how you defeat them. Pretending you do, then attacking an entirely different enemy, while making up shit to justify it, is how you get your ass kicked."
Are we making things up?
Here's a more measured view from Leon Wieseltier:
They're hiding, Leon. They're hiding.
That position is too dangerous. Adopt it and people will think you are unpatriotic.
And one should, obviously, not trade too many emails with Ric and Joseph in France.