My first letter. Thanks for your site, which I have been compulsively reading for months now. It gathers the cream of commentary like no other.
Two things: Since reading “Reconnecting With the Reality-Based Community,” Scott McConnell’s review of Ethical Realism: A Vision for Americas Role in the World by Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman, I have stopped looking for a more succinct statement of our moment in time. It has decided me to give The American Conservative as a gift subscription to local high school teachers this year, replacing The American Prospect, which I have given for four years now. The writing is better and more profound.
Secondly, being in the sign business, it is my business to reduce all messages to a bumper sticker. The art is to have it contain the essential elements of the full message. Let me submit my humble offering to you and Antiwar.com now: IRAQ: Done wrong, or wrong to do? This is the question, and fault line, upon which American society will break. The Democrats are already clearly lined up to “do it better.” We and our country will either disavow our imperial pretensions, acknowledge that empire is wrong to do, and live our lives accordingly or wink out as a society, bewildered, like latter-day Romans on steroids.
Now comes the time for me to part company and give up my addiction to your site. I am familiar enough with the ways of Mordor. I now strike out on the path of sustainable business, long-term industrial permaculture, and relocalization. We’ll find our way by the stars, by Spirit, and by the best of our inheritance, or not at all.
While I share Justin Raimondo’s negative opinion of Avigdor Lieberman, I thought it was needlessly provocative to compare him to Hitler. What with all the leaders being compared with Hitler these days, one would think that The Boys from Brazil was a true story. Lieberman is evil enough to find his own special niche in the pantheon of villains without having to drag up der Fuhrer yet once again. Surely the inventor of that delicious term "Bizarro World" can do better than this.
Mr. Roberts claims that the USA was founded on the idea of limiting government in order to protect people from the excesses of government. Perhaps he should remember that slavery was initially part of American society and that it eventually triumphed over the original concept of limited government. Any time conservatives decide that “protecting” economic interests (slavery then, big oil today) comes first, then freedom withers.
Paul Craig Roberts replies:
“I agree with Hornberger that the way to deal with terrorism is to change the policies that provoke it. What the Bush administration has done is to institutionalize elements of a police state as protections against terrorists so that it doesn’t have to change its policy in the Middle East.”
Excellent read. One of the issues that I agree is paramount in understanding this unique situation that we face today is beginning a debate about U.S. foreign policy. As you note in your article, foreign policy arrogance by the Bush administration is so rigid and so status quo that many have bought into the notion that it is our liberties that must be sacrificed, rather than the wrongheaded policies themselves.
I also see the distance between America today and the America of the Founding Fathers as a problem. Most of us today have grown accustomed to bringing up the ghosts of the Founding Fathers in discussions and debates as points of argument, while the Founding Fathers themselves who discussed and debated were at the same time actually seeing and living in a world where they felt passionately about the value of liberties over the government’s role.
There are, in my humble opinion, a host of issues that have contributed to our pop culture interest in Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ newborn and our collective yawn about the “rollback” of our liberties, but in my estimation the one clear reason is that we have not had to fight for these liberties against government for many generations, and we today have too many Americans who equate those who speak out against government to America-haters, rather than defenders of the Bill of Rights or the Constitution.
And when the president and the vice president of the U.S. openly create an us-versus-them distinction among its own people, some Americans buy in to this nonsense rather than become enraged that these government leaders are openly opposing one of the most basic rights of an American citizen: to address grievances against its government and to question its representatives. However, in today’s divided political arena, too many have drawn sides about matters in which this very nation was founded.
Political parties are today about unlimited power and greed, and very little about at least agreeing to the principles of the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. And perhaps, unlike any other period of time in U.S. history, we find leaders are less about following the rules established by those above documents and more about unbridled control, authority, and power. The path set by this present administration can be a wake-up call to the dangers that we face when fear, misinformation, and ideology rule over common sense, compromise, and reality. Our next leaders can seize the moment to pursue a path that drives us toward reconciliation, by using members of both parties in its administration (which up until Bush II was fairly commonplace), or it can choose to go after its political enemies, further driving a ideological wedge throughout this nation.
I certainly believe that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld should be held accountable for their misdeeds; however, this should not be the number-one goal should Democrats be returned to power. The larger picture should be a structured strategy to inform and educate the people to become actively engaged in its government and to understand that it should not have to give up its liberty established in these documents to enjoy security. In other words, our next set of leaders should be willing to examine and change policies rather than erode or restrict liberties to keep these policies in place.
This means that the next administration should examine and demonstrate that it can work with the other party and that it can embrace others’ ideas for the good of the people. Moreover, we need an administration that does not rule by punitive measures of sanctions and war while saying that this is the only solution when it is in fact our policies that fail to move in the direction of compromise and cooperation.
Because if we cannot elect the type of leaders who can end this unfortunate partisan trend toward divisive politics, America won’t have to worry about terrorism and security, because she will have ultimately destroyed herself internally as so many other great empires of the past have done.
I‘m sorry for being late, but in light of the two previous comments I wanted to express my sincere and heartfelt support to Mr. Raimondo for his honest look into the affairs of today’s Russia and bouts of well-orchestrated Russophobia in the U.S. and Europe accompanying its emergence from the abyss of 1990s. As someone who left Russia 17 years later than Dimitry Zarkh and lived there for 31 years longer than the lady/gentleman from Amsterdam, I dare to claim more expertise in all questions Russian than both of them combined.
All I really wanted to say is that Justin Raimondo seems to have developed a remarkable instinct for the truth, as well as an equally remarkable instinct for constantly disseminated anti-Russian propaganda in the mainstream Western press (presumably the source of “knowledge” of the anti-Putin crowd, including Dimitry Zarkh and Karel Beckman).
Vladimir Putin is not perfect, but he’s the best thing that’s happened to Russia in the last 90-some years. Popular opinion reflects that pathetic try by Karel Beckman to discount it and deny it notwithstanding. The situation with freedom of press as the article shows is indeed not even close to being dire. The political debate is magnitudes livelier than in the U.S. The economy is growing by leaps and bounds. Prosperity is starting to spill into the provinces. Thievery and corruption while still off the charts are a pale shadow of what they were before Putin took over.
Please, Mr. Raimondo, don’t get discouraged from shedding light into dark corners, even if the things being discovered are far from pleasant. Thanks for your courage.
~ Oleg Beliakovich