...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003
      ( 1:08 PM )
Dictator Removal Service

Jonathan Wallace in this month's Ethical Spectacle lays it out brilliantly (you should read the whole thing):

[Starting off commenting on a NYT piece by Todd Purdum on Bush's State of the Union Address]
The article, like the Times itself, like the
mainstream media, buys the premise
that the President is sincere in his moral
crusade against the "axis of evil"--that
the coming war, whether well-considered
or not, is a sincere exercise in the public
good--a dictator removal service engaged
in as a gift to the world.

So here is a little corrective history.

[He goes on to describe in detail what happened in Chile]

These three men [he is speaking
of Kissinger, Poindexter and Reich - he
didn't even bring up Negroponte] are
not regarded as tainted players from a
past, amoral era; they are regarded as loyal
soldiers, valued resources who did what
they had to in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan
administrations and are willing to do so
again. This proves, in effect, that the current
president and his advisers do not believe
that the goals advanced or the tactics used
by earlier administrations in Chile and
elsewhere in Latin America were wrong.

This amorality, this "real-politik" maps very
poorly to the President's ringing rhetoric
of human dignity, the rule of law, etc. --unless
one regards the list, not as the fundamental
and simple building blocks of a better
world, but as highly convenient, shifting,
realpolitik concepts, to be taken out of the
closet as needed and laid away again when
they become inconvenient. In fact, I don't think
the Bush administration understands
anything, or cares in the slightest, about
"human dignity, the rule of law, limits on the
power of the state, respect for women.....free
speech [and] equal justice...."

All of the President's and Colin Powell's
speechifying have given me a glimpse of a
possible world, one in which the United Nations,
acting by consensus, operates a dictator
removal service. International norms exist, like
the rule against torture, which are universal and
therefore are even paid lip-service by the regimes
which flout them. The Chilean constitution, before
and during the Pinochet years, contained a
prohibition of torture. An international force which
moved in and removed regimes at the very extreme
of human behavior, as Saddam is, and promoted
democratic self-determination everywhere, would
be a beautiful thing. Unilateral action by the United
States based on a contingent, shifting set of
perceived interests masked in the language of simple
morality, is not. One common denominator between
the overthrow of a democratically elected president
in Chile, and the removal of a dictator in Iraq, is private
property: the one nationalized the copper mines,
and the other has oil. There are other motives which
are apparent or waiting to be revealed; but the
language of simple morality is nothing more than a mask

Does Bush, et al. actually believe they are doing the morally right thing? Or are they truly and with malice misleading the American public and the world to acheive their own greedy ends? While I agree they are definitely masking their true intent behind "a language of morality", is their true intent actually evil, or is it that in their own minds they are morally correct in their actions?

Either way, the ends of their actions cannot possibly justify the means. And if history shows us anything, as Wallace's article clearly displays, the ends never quite turn out well either.

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