Friday, November 18, 2005

Where's the revolution? (Part 1)

Most of you don't know, and even fewer of you will care, that I wore the uniform of this country in the 80's, during a singularly undistinguished tour in the USMC. I didn't particularly care for the regimentation of the Corps, and they reciprocated by bringing my tour to an early end. The discharge was honorable, but there was no love lost between the Corps and I. However, I took my oath, and the principles of the Corps very seriously. Honor, integrity, duty to unit and country, and the rules of engagement were stamped on us, with serious consequences for those who chose to ignore them.

More after the jump...

It is against this backdrop that I see Senators trying to make law that will exempt "certain agents of the United States" from the rules regarding torture. I hear of an effort to strip the meager protection of a lawyer from the Gitmo detainees. Which fucking passed. (It's interesting to note that Graham, the halfwit author of the measure, misstepped something awful and called them "enemy combatants" instead of "illegal combatants".) What? I hear about "black sites" and the hand over of terrorist suspects to governments that use torture as a matter of course. What the fuck? Uzbekistan, an ally in the war on terror, has BOILED people in its custody. Look it up. Donald Rumsfeld hailed them as a staunch ally in February 2005, just months before their aid was pulled by the State Department for human rights violations, holding that human rights rights are only one "aspect" of the US-Uzbek relationship.

Some of the "evidence" obtained from suspects in the custody of these black sites wound up in Colin Powells presentation to the UN. "Evidence" he now says was in error, and sometimes deliberately misleading. Gee, I wonder how it could be that information obtained through torture could be in error, or deliberately misleading?

Dick Cheney fought a losing battle against the McCain Amendment to prevent the mistreatment of detainees, threatening the veto of a military appropriations bill that would provide money for the war effort in Iraq. This was followed shortly thereafter by his hillbilly meat-puppet of a President, in a moment of idiocy, if not insanity, opining that "We do not torture" when the CIA report of the black sites hit the airwaves.

He says we will pursue them under the law, while keeping the status of those detained at Gitmo's Camp X-Ray...murky. Nicely done, George, you fucking moron, maybe you could put down the fifth of Jack, and have someone read you the Fifth Amendment. (Those of you that believe in the God of Christianity should get down on your knees and thank your deity that this mildly sentient fraction of a man cannot be re-elected to the office of the President of the United States.)

We are signatories to the Conventions on Torture and the Geneva Conventions, and the beacon of freedom to the world, and we have a responsibility, a duty, to be better than the opponent we face. This has nothing to do with what other countries think of us, goddamnit, this is about what we think of ourselves!! And, while I know that references to Nazis makes people (hard line conservatives) go absolutely batshit, when you get on the path of government mandated, and funded, torture and murder, that's where that road ends.


Lily said...

But see this is the thing- when you remark about being "signatories" it goes without saying that we have hardly acknowledged any of these instruments as binding, further, in our refusal to yield any legitimacy to the UN or its charters we have rendered them effectively irrelevant as well. Its a cycle- we do not yield legitimacy, then we discount their role because they cannot 'enforce" any resolutions. Please speak to that process, Some Guy.
Of course I agree with your posturing, Some Guy, but cannot help but beat the horse on the notions of "being better then the opponent we face" or serving as "beacons". While true, it is *not* about global popularity as you succinctly state- we cannot continue on a course of hypocrisy and arrogance with this pretense of moral authority. It is a matter of people in other nations seeing us for the bullying resource mongers that we are... it is a matter of jeopardizing the safety of our citizenry by snubbing conventions with our tortures by is a matter of needing the good will of those whose cooperation we snub. it is a matter of PROVOKING RETALIATION. Before I ask you to sing Kumbaya, let me point out that even the darkest-souled prick of the planet should be able to see the wisdom in diplomacy as more win-win. There is a futility in our incessant assertion that we do not "need" the global community's blessings to pig out at the trough.
I contend that we are only "Beacons" because we *proclaim* this to be so!!! Not because of history, evidence, commitment to human rights, a legacy of informed participatory Democracy, or because we model freedom. We talk but we don't walk, sweetheart.
How can I purport to love my country, family, or community- and not suggest that we challenge what is being done in our names? Is it so terrible to suggest that perhaps patriotic people might consider raising the bar a TAD, for all our hot-air rhetoric? Let us rise to the challenge as the great people we are!!! While we're moralizing, lets also model sustainability too- all beacons need a planet to illuminate, with their Democratic grandeur!!
While people are on their knees, let them recall that our history is relatively short but our decline has been rapid. Beyond all the socio-political ranting- America has its financial manhood in a vice grip. Our collective bravado held up when other economies were subservient to us, and when we could buy and sell the Third World. When we could broker our will with a crap shoot. Now fucking Cuba offers help in a crisis! The world watched our people sit on rooftops.
Our appetite for cheap crap and oil has been our undoing, and our failure to play nicely with others. When China hollers a margin call, you can thank the same God for amassing enough wealth to feed the theocrats at least.
Rights are what distinguish us from "the opponent we face". So- how are we doing on that?
America, you can officially lament your lost veneer.

les said...

Hey, we told the Iraquis that we won't tolerate abuse and mistreatment of prisoners. Gosh, what else can we do? Don't they know it's the GWOT????

Officious Pedant said...

And here is where we part ways, Lilly. I don't think we've lost our veneer. We are still a manufacturing powerhouse, but we allow that authority to be undermined by allowing corporations to take their production elsewhere. We are, largely, the economy that powers the rest of the world, and there is a great deal of inertia to overcome to allow othersa seat at the table.

I agree wholeheartedly that we undermine the UN by defying the edicts we don't like (such as forcing Turkey out of Cypress or addressing Israeli excesses), but we aren't the only ones. Each of the permanent mebers of the Security Council have played fast and loose with the spirit of the council for their own ends. It is important, however, to bear in mind that Realpolitik is the art of gaining for ones self. The idea that every need can be embraced equally by all is naive in the extreme, because no culture in the history of man has put the well being of another ahead of itself. You don't overcome human nature with group hug rhetoric either.

And, on the subject of rhetoric, try to bear in mind while you busily campaign against Republican incumbents for their Democratic challengers, that YOU are also part of the problem. When you espouse the egegious wrongfulness of those feeding at the trough, take a moment to consider that voting for one of the TWO PARTIES currently in power is part of the problem. The Democrats and Republicans, going largely unchallenged in the last 50 years, have begun to retread the same ideas with new trappings. They talk the same talk, but neither of the walk the walk. It has become all about political imperative and issue control, and the new ideas and approaces by the other parties get ignored. Hell, they can't even get AIR TIME in the national debates. Maybe you could take some of that angst and put it behind some of those independents who struggle every election to be HEARD, far less elected.

Lily said...

Be careful about your assumptions as I am not a Democrat,OP! You hardly know what I support in my personal life and in fact I have supported some of the most obscure people you can imagine both with door banging, petitions, and money, were my "records" on independent candidates available to you, you might take a different view of my angst and find some of the criticisms to be undeserved. That said, I'll spare you the specifics.
However, I do not fault you for what you do not know and am quite accustomed to addressing "you're a liberal therefore..." styled assumptions. Do not read into my comments more than what I have disclosed. Its not good form, cupcake. You can't guess about what I do any more than I can shriek about your public efforts.
See I'm ecstatic that you brought up realpolitick, national self promotion, group hugs and human nature! Rather than bandy those about since I can safely presume you to be well versed, I humbly ask you to explore the following article on at least the biological.
Barbara Ehrenreich in The Roots of War addresses the "biological theories of war" in an excellent must-read for anyone on the absolute pacifism to realpolitick spectrum.
I tried to be selective in my impositions on your time. One link.
Glad to see you back, OP.

Lily said...

"And here is where we part ways, Lilly. I don't think we've lost our veneer. We are still a manufacturing powerhouse, but we allow that authority to be undermined by allowing corporations to take their production elsewhere."
I think we part ways on what is meant by veneer. And our entitlement to the term authority.
I meant the veneer of moral authority, specifically the notion that we can be instructional in that arena when we refuse to address human rights issues etc. or behave at all like a "powerhouse".
Now- if by powerhouse you mean measures of consumption, use of resources, pollution, arms dealings, shitty infant mortality rates, I would say yes we are in fact a powerhouse.
But I think of an economic powerhouse differently, as having some key characteristics:
1) An *appropriate* trade balance
2) Renewable energy sources and an infrastructure that is not tied to foreign imports, reserves vs. borrowing from the EU.
3) A strategy for potential (inevitable) degradation of the dollar
4) The ability to use our abundant intellectual resources to solve world problems, actually joining in efforts to cooperatively solve versus snubbing (Kyoto) (weapons bans)
5) The ability to provide for our own citizens in time of crisis (how're we doin with the list?)
6) The ability to provide universal healthcare NOT as a hippie notion but as a reflection of viewing the population as a resource
We have many to thank for outsourcing, and its interesting to see "free market" junkies scratch their heads on that dilemma. But look at the bright side: jobs overseas have boosted the emerging, growing economies and now other people can buy shit all day like we do (sadly, not from us) and use oil and cars (oh yeah, also not from us) and build suburbs in Asia, India, etc... perhaps they can continue to send their students here to work as civilian "military helpers" for tech contracts too.
Oh thats right, we're a powerhouse. We don't need to do that.

Lew Scannon said...

First off, les, it's not the GWOT any more. That's what it was called about three names ago. Last I heard it was now the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.
Also, while the Democraps and the Republicants are dinosaurs that need to be sent to the graveyard of permanent extinction, at this time, the Dems appear to be the lesser of two evils and while that still is evil I hardly think you would see a Democratic Sec. of defense on george Stephanopoulous defending the President's veto of a measure ensuring that the US never use torture. that said, I would have to agree with greenlilly that we are no longer the manufacturing powerhouse we once were. The main reason we went to war in Iraq was Saddam's decision to take euros for oil in the oil for food program as opposed to the petro dollar. We have been passing bad checks for decades called petro dollars and have not produced enough goods to back that dollar up with should some country decide to cash in all the dollars in their treasury. That's also one of the reasons that Bush and Cheney are rattling sabres at Iran as they intend on setting up an oil bourse based on the euro as opposed to the dollar. We have a trade deficit because incrementally we have been sending manufacturing jobs overseas and while the corporations are still American, the wages that go to the labor involved in making products for corporate America are staying overseas.

les said...

Lew, I think they blew off GSAVE and went back to GWOT. "Struggle" was just an entirely wrong image--Bushies don't "struggle". By the way, you need a new sarcasm meter.