Friday, May 28, 2004

Everyone with any sense is fast asleep at this hour, but I...just...can't...resist...annotating...Al Gore's recent Move On speech...

George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.

Hmm...now which President was it who was censured for perjury by his state bar association? Hint: he feels your pain.

Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, [Quick quiz: Name the UN resolution that justified the Clinton Administration's attack on Serbia in 1999. All right, it was a trick question.] international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind." He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. [Not what Tommy Franks says.] And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins. Me, I find it refreshing that we have an administration that doesn't substitute symbolism for leadership.

How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib.

Does Al really know what the word "torture" means? If the word "torture" is to have even the remotest meaning, then to equate some guy with panties on his head with real torture is to destroy the word, to render it forever meaningless.

To begin with, from its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II. The long successful strategy of containment was abandoned in favor of the new strategy of "preemption." The people on the 99th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11th might have had a wee disagreement with how "successful" the old strategy was. And what they meant by preemption was not the inherent right of any nation to act preemptively against an imminent threat to its national security, but rather an exotic new approach that asserted a unique and unilateral U.S. right to ignore international law wherever it wished to do so and take military action against any nation, even in circumstances where there was no imminent threat. All that is required, in the view of Bush's team is the mere assertion of a possible, future threat - and the assertion need be made by only one person, the President.

There are any number of facts with which to counter Al's straw man argument here, but the proven Iraqi involvement in the first, 1993, World Trade Center attack was an act of war in itself. But the Clinton administration made a habit of ignoring acts of war, so Al's point of view is not inconsistent.

More disturbing still was their frequent use of the word "dominance" to describe their strategic goal, because an American policy of dominance is as repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people. Dominance is as dominance does.

I haven't really noticed the administration using the term all that much...I am starting to wonder about Gore. (or "Al the bottom" as someone called him).

Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all. Actually, it's a highly accurate and useful term to describe America's historically unprecedented current position in the world. The Clinton administration spent eight years pretending that America wasn't dominant in the world in the hope that everyone would love them. Responses to this policy came through loud and clear (to everyone except the deluded) at Somalia, the World Trade Center, Khobar Towers, two African embassies, and the U.S.S. Cole. It is a seductive illusion that tempts the powerful to satiate their hunger for more power still by striking a Faustian bargain. And as always happens - sooner or later - to those who shake hands with the devil, they find out too late that what they have given up in the bargain is their soul. Black Preacher Al reappears.

One of the clearest indications of the impending loss of intimacy with one's soul is the failure to recognize the existence of a soul in those over whom power is exercised, especially if the helpless come to be treated as animals, and degraded. [See this cigar, Monica?] We also know - and not just from De Sade and Freud - the psychological proximity between sexual depravity and other people's pain. It has been especially shocking and awful to see these paired evils perpetrated so crudely and cruelly in the name of America.

Even more shocking and awful are Gore's disgraceful attempts to blame everyone for the stupidity of a handful of people, simply for political gain.

Those pictures of torture and sexual abuse came to us embedded in a wave of news about escalating casualties and growing chaos enveloping our entire policy in Iraq. But in order understand the failure of our overall policy, it is important to focus specifically on what happened in the Abu Ghraib prison, and ask whether or not those actions were representative of who we are as Americans? Obviously the quick answer is no, but unfortunately it's more complicated than that.

Speak for yourself, Al. It's not representative of me, you ass.

There is good and evil in every person. And what makes the United States special in the history of nations is our commitment to the rule of law and our carefully constructed system of checks and balances. Our natural distrust of concentrated power and our devotion to openness and democracy are what have lead us as a people to consistently choose good over evil in our collective aspirations more than the people any other nation.

Our founders were insightful students of human nature. [So why do Democrats pretend that so much of their work--the Tenth Amendment, for example--doesn't exist?] They feared the abuse of power because they understood that every human being has not only "better angels" in his nature, but also an innate vulnerability to temptation - especially the temptation to abuse power over others.

Our founders understood full well that a system of checks and balances is needed in our constitution because every human being lives with an internal system of checks and balances that cannot be relied upon to produce virtue if they are allowed to attain an unhealthy degree of power over their fellow citizens.

Listen then to the balance of internal impulses described by specialist Charles Graner when confronted by one of his colleagues, Specialist Joseph M. Darby, who later became a courageous whistleblower. When Darby asked him to explain his actions documented in the photos, Graner replied: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the Corrections Officer says, 'I love to make a groan [sic] man piss on himself."

What happened at the prison, it is now clear, was not the result of random acts by "a few bad apples," it was the natural consequence of the Bush Administration policy that has dismantled those wise constraints and has made war on America's checks and balances.

Um...no. To call this analogy a stretch is to insult stretches everywhere.

The abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of the truth that characterized the Administration's march to war and the abuse of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in the aftermath of September 11th.

There was then, there is now and there would have been regardless of what Bush did, a threat of terrorism that we would have to deal with. But instead of making it better, he has made it infinitely worse. We are less safe because of his policies. He has created more anger and righteous [!] indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation -- because of his attitude of contempt for any person, institution or nation who disagrees with him.

Al, as always, is clueless. People hate America because, simply, of what we are.

He has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack by terrorists because of his arrogance, willfulness, and bungling at stirring up hornet's nests that pose no threat whatsoever to us. [I bet they will start training pilots to fly planes into our buildings...oh wait, they already did that during your administration, Al.] And by then insulting the religion and culture and tradition of people in other countries. [How exactly did Bush do this?] And by pursuing policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children, all of it done in our name.

Here I am forced to recall the Clinton Adminstration's incineration of 88 American children at Waco. Talk about stirring up hornet's nest--the "arrogance, willfulness, and bungling" displayed at Waco led directly to the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing. So presumably this is a subject that Gore is an expert in: Exposing Americans to a greater danger of terrorist attack.

President Bush said in his speech Monday night that the war in Iraq is "the central front in the war on terror." It's not the central front in the war on terror, but it has unfortunately become the central recruiting office for terrorists. Dick Cheney said, "This war may last the rest of our lives. The unpleasant truth is that President Bush's utter incompetence has made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorism against the United States. Just yesterday, the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that the Iraq conflict " has arguable focused the energies and resources of Al Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition." The ISS said that in the wake of the war in Iraq Al Qaeda now has more than 18,000 potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is swelling its ranks.

Like most dishonest people on the Left, Gore ignores Afghanistan and the rout of the Taliban. How come that war didn't "swell the ranks" of terrorists?

The war plan was incompetent in its rejection of the advice from military professionals and the analysis of the intelligence was incompetent in its conclusion that our soldiers would be welcomed with garlands of flowers and cheering crowds. Thus we would not need to respect the so-called Powell doctrine of overwhelming force.

One word: Somalia. You wouldn't let the poor bastards have even one tank or Bradley, and they died needlessly. You have no right to lecture anyone about "overwhelming force," you hemmorhoid.

So I only made it halfway through.

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