Friday, May 28, 2004

The President Denied

Tex told me Kerry should have spoken like Al Gore - this appraisal from a libertarian was noteworthy enough to get me to read a whole transscript.

Back in the nineties I always liked Gore more than Clinton, even while I was dismayed at him too getting under the almost total influence of DNC and for choosing Demoblican Joe Lieberman as running mate. So I was positively surprised when he broke with the DNC crowd by endorsing Dean (whom I considered the real compromise candidate, given his views on the size of the military or death penalty or budget disclipine or guns or his lack of action on renewable energies in Vermont; rather than the far-left candidate DNC/DLC helped GOP and corporate media to paint him).

Now this speech was impressive, even with the usual quibbles I had, I recommend everyone read it in full. Here just some memorable quotes:

The long successful strategy of containment was abandoned in favor of the new strategy of "preemption." 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.


Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all. 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.


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 man piss on himself."


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. And by then insulting the religion and culture and tradition of people in other countries. 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. [How refreshing after so many other prominent US war opponents only complaining about own troop deaths]


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 [hehe...] Powell doctrine of overwhelming force.

There was also in Rumsfeld's planning a failure to provide security for nuclear materials, and to prevent widespread lawlessness and looting.


Private Lynndie England did not make the decision that the United States would not observe the Geneva Convention. Specialist Charles Graner was not the one who approved a policy of establishing an American Gulag of dark rooms with naked prisoners to be "stressed" and even we must use the word tortured to force them to say things that legal procedures might not induce them to say.


President Bush set the tone for our attitude for suspects [the important distinction igored by so many!] in his State of the Union address. He noted that more than 3,000 "suspected terrorists" had been arrested in many countries and then he added, "and many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: they are no longer a problem to the United States and our allies."

George Bush promised to change the tone in Washington. And indeed he did. As many as 37 prisoners may have been murdered while in captivity, though the numbers are difficult to rely upon because in many cases involving violent death, there were no autopsies.


Kerry should not tie his own hands by offering overly specific, detailed proposals concerning a situation that is rapidly changing and unfortunately, rapidly deteriorating, but should rather preserve his, and our country's, options, to retrieve our national honor as soon as this long national nightmare is over. [Interesting advice. Now Gore makes it appear Kerry already follows it, but this might be implicite criticism.]


We all know these things, and we need not reassure ourselves and should not congratulate ourselves that our society is less cruel than some others, although it is worth noting that there are many that are less cruel than ours. And this searing revelation at Abu Ghraib should lead us to examine more thoroughly the routine horrors in our domestic prison system.


...It is important to note that just as the abuses of the prisoners flowed directly from the policies of the Bush White House, those policies flowed not only from the instincts of the president and his advisors, but found support in shifting attitudes on the part of some in our country in response to the outrage and fear generated by the attack of September 11th.

The president exploited and fanned those fears, but some otherwise sensible and levelheaded Americans fed them as well. [Ha!] I remember reading genteel-sounding essays asking publicly whether or not the prohibitions against torture were any longer relevant or desirable...

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