“For nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements; it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world’s a better place because we have borne them.”
Was the U.S. an anchor of global security and an enforcer of international agreements when it overthrew the Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953, or the Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954?
Is the world a better place because the U.S. helped overthrow Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government in Chile almost exactly 40 years ago?
Is the world a better place because the United States killed 3 million people in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and because we dropped 20 million gallons of napalm (waging our own version of chemical warfare) on those countries?
Is the world a better place because the United States supported brutal governments in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, which killed tens of thousands of their own people?
Is the world a better place because George Bush waged an illegal war against Iraq and killed between 100,000 and a million civilians?
And what international agreements was the United States enforcing when it tortured people after 9/11?
Forget the Syria debate, we need to debate on why we’re always debating whether to bomb someone because we’re starting to look, not so much like the world’s policeman, but more like George Zimmerman — itching to use force and then pretending it’s because we had no choice.
Represent us has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, including the launch of the American Anti-Corruption Act with bipartisan support, including Lawrence Lessig and Trevor Potter. 400,000 Americans have signed up to support the Act.
Here is an effort to illustrate how laws are made in Washington D.C.:
Glenn Greenwald characterizes Barack Obama’s recent terrorism speech as a Rorschach test–something for everyone:
The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal. But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do.
One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, “style” and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed “crazy”, as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually “crazy” are the political orthodoxies this tactic seeks to shield from challenge). This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society’s most powerful factions and their institutions.
A TV plays nonstop in the lunchroom at my workplace. Today, as I grabbed a snack, CNN was interviewing a “Vatican spokesman” (I didn’t catch his name, but he was the man on the right in this photo). While this interview was airing, the Cardinals were still deliberating. It occurred to me first of all that despite being guided by the “Holy Spirit” these men were struggling to make a decision. The Vatican Spokesman said to the CNN reporter, “We’re looking for Something New.” Amen to that.