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Words, detached from reality

by Colman Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 07:48:45 AM EST

Philip Stephens, writing in the FT is still trying to justify his support for the "muscular idealism" of the Bush regime.

Brought across by afew


Words, though, have become detached from reality. If the US president has not wavered in his rhetorical allegiance to the goal of democratic transformation in the Middle East, the practice has foundered. It is not hard to see why.

Because he never gave a damn about it? Even Stephens admits later that "democracy building appeared an afterthought, a cloak over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction".

The invasion of Iraq was intended as a demonstration of American power sufficient to cow authoritarian regimes across the region. Instead, the civil war in that country has attested to weakness. The Palestinians elected the "wrong" party in Hamas. As US power has ebbed, so too has Washington's pressure on Egypt's Hosni Mubarak to relax his grip. A strategy of democracy promotion that was characterised only last year as a generational challenge has all but collapsed.

Here's a hint: blowing people up is not promoting democracy. Supporting dictators because they do as they're told is not promoting democracy. Showing total disdain for the results of a democratic process is not promoting democracy. Embarking upon a crusade against some of the most screwed up countries on the planet in order to promote the short-term political and economic goals of you and your cronies is not promoting democracy.

I have never quite understood European attitudes. The parents of my generation endured the second world war. Their sacrifices, we learned at school, had been made in the name of freedom. They had been worth it because, unlike the communists, those of us lucky enough to live in the west could say what we liked and, at regular intervals, throw out our leaders. Democracy was >the prize.

Yet Europeans - or, more accurately, many in the western half of the continent - are more likely these days to value stability. Freedom is fine for us, but better not challenge despots elsewhere.

This is all the more strange because the European Union has been the world's most successful agent in supporting regime change - in the former dictatorships of Spain, Portugal and  Greece and in the post-communist states of eastern and central >Europe.

You'll note, you fucking idiot, that the reason the EU has been successful is precisely because it doesn't run around invading countries to "spread democracy" - democracy is neither a synonym for cluster bombs nor depleted uranium by the way - nor does it routinely ignore the results of the democratic process.

For all that some may enjoy the humbling of the superpower, I suspect that America's allies will find the aftermath less palatable if, as seems likely, muscular idealism now makes way >for a unilateralism defined by narrow national interest. The "narrow national interest" would be a great improvement over the narrow personal interest currently being pursued.

I am not predicting these policy shifts. But it is as well to understand the dark side of a values-blind foreign policy. "values-blind"? The choice you present is between a" values-blind" policy and the current one?

The values of the current policy of "muscular idealism" are clear, as are its ideals: they are the values and ideals of a pyschopathic, sadistic, bully; of thieves who would murder and torture children for their lunch money. They are the values and ideals of arrogant fools who believe that remaking the world to their benefit justifies any means, any crime and any outrage.

Those are values we'd be better off being blind to.

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And don't even get me started on the arrogant fools who write this sort of shit in order to justify murder and theft.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 01:53:57 PM EST
The most frustrating part is that this scribble gets printed in a newspaper, unfortunately a paper that is still being taken serious by to many.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 02:00:54 PM EST
Hey, it's "the most important newspaper in Europe" (Jerome Dixit).

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 07:19:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if he dixit, it must be veritas!
by Matt in NYC on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:21:16 PM EST
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Veritas veritatum, et omnia veritas.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:41:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is this rodeo clown talking about when he speaks of the "narrow national interest"?  Actually promoting democracy and essential liberties, instead of simply talking about them, is in everyone's interest.  But the neocons can't even fake it.  At least Reagan knew how to fake it -- or rather knew how to fake it as well as the average B-movie actor, I suppose.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 04:20:16 PM EST
... but Big Oil can't see that, because they project from where they are today, rather than projecting from where they are heading if they keep going down the path of relying on the US to establish a network of bases wherever it serves their short term interest.

I expect that the majority of the people at the top of the heap normally have to be kicked off, even when their long term interest is best served by climbing down.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 02:42:16 AM EST
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So, here I am in Ravenna. Where exactly was the Rubicon, again?

You've got a bit of a walk and swim ahead of you, I'm afraid.  Ravenna, eh?  I just hope it's nicer than Akron.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 03:22:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And yeah, its a nice little town, with bus service to Kent to boot.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 11:49:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
man, chapeau...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Nov 24th, 2006 at 07:21:54 PM EST
that you're no longer the good guys, and that you were swindled by some "thieves who would murder and torture children for their lunch money" because they cloaked themselves in "values" and you (inexplicably) fell for it.

Well, it's your fault. We did warn you. We did find it staggeringly naive to believe that crowd, and we did not understand why you fell for it, but fall you did, to the extent that you made that whole sorry mess happen, and now we're all going to pay for it for decades, as the concept of the rule of law in the international arena has taken a 50 year step backwards, if not worse.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:56:12 AM EST
Jerome - you are being far to kind.

It's hard to admit that you're no longer the good guys, and that you were swindled

The American people were not swindled. There is a long history of supporting wars of aggression (Vietnam, Philippines, Cuba) as long as the US is winning.

The American people wanted to be swindled. They were willing victims of a country that has repeatedly overthrown country after country (let alone democracy after democracy) in the name of democracy.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice - its that evil bushes fault. Fool me - what is it now? - 20 times? 30 times?

Swindled - na. How about willing participants?


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:40:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem to forget that I am anti-American. Your comment makes you ... what? I don't even wnat to know.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 10:06:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Canadian?

Hey, America is a messianic, militaristic nation. The 2004 Democratic Convention showed me that it would take more than Bush the Lesser to change that.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 10:12:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As long as one is going for bad times in the Democratic party, one could do worse than the 1964 Democratic convention.

Oh - am actually a duel citizen. My parents left during the Vietnam War. My father is a draft resister from Korea. He used his professional skills to arranged to be diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 12:08:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's unkind. I'd agree that there is a huge disconnection between American public's view of the disinterested benevolence of its activities and the actual motivations of those who set policy.

AS George H Bush found out in Dubai, even those who are considered to be "beneficiaries" of the system understand that policy is enacted to benefit american corporates, which are beholden to none in their rapacious greed.

The result is that all activities are sold to the american public as being pro-democratic, and with the US msm in its current state how could anyone know differently, whilst every time the affected country suffers. It was Truman who said of the original Samoza in Nicaragua, "he may be a bastard, but he's ourt bastard". This cynicism suggests that US policy is to let their bastards do what they want domestically, so long as the corporates get to come in and pick the bones clean.

And btw I consider myself a true friend of America, one prepared to be honest and criticise.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 10:17:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... some americans would say detached :)

Actually most americans just do nto care.. they are not willingful anything.

If you are not in the game.. you are not in the game.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 11:19:37 AM EST
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Someone has to make you look like the voice of moderation.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 12:26:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 11:50:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A majority--at least a bare majority--of Americans do believe that torturing children for their lunch money is too extreme.  

They really were conned about that.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 04:08:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the Americans are truly spending more money on culture (eg the statistics are not loosely gathered and similarly interpreted) it might be because America has a lot of catching up to do.

This being said, it'd be nice if one saw spent some of that philanthropy on public housing and an RMI of sorts so I'd see less single mothers at the dorothy day center and (presumably) the shelters.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 02:40:06 PM EST
oops, wrong diary.

man i'm having a bad day...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 02:40:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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