Best Hope?

"We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just - a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless."
President Abraham Lincoln, 1862

"You get farther with kind words and a gun, than with kind words alone."
Al Capone, and one of Donald Rumsfeld's most frequently offered quotes, 2003

Ok. I think I have had it.

The purpose of this site is to give me an opportunity to investigate what it means to be aware, of myself and others and the parts of an individual life that we hold dear and in common. And for the last year, greater events have started to impact our daily lives, and not for the better. Even though where I live is a pretty liberal place, I worry about what I hear and see.

George W. Bush has convinced me of the unwillingness or incapacity of his administration and party to lead this nation in a civilized, democratic, and humane manner. This administration and their supporters have suborned the ideals of democracy and honor and discussion to patriotism and jingoism and ignorance, thereby placing the soul of the nation under assault.

And indeed we are talking about the very soul of the nation. Not security, not world leadership, not supporting our armed forces. The very soul of the nation, what makes us Americans in our eyes and the eyes and hopes of the world.

When someone you love, you respect, you think you know does something far out of character, out of what you expected a caring person to do, there is a loss. There is a loss of respect, of belief, of trust. Folks, this is what America is doing to itself, and the world, right now.
The principle of unilateral pre-emptive strike, like indefinite detention without representation, is a hammer blow to American responsibility, civic life, international cooperation, and integrity. Remember innocent til proven guilty? If we attack first because another country *might* attack us in some way, or incarcerate a human being because they *might* commit a crime, then ladies and gentlemen, then we become the very kind of nation our founding fathers rebelled against. It is like walking into a bar and punching a guy because he might spill your drink. We do not gain security, we sow fear and uncertainty. We do not stop terrorism or crime, but instead accomplish the effects of both with our own policies. We sacrifice liberty for false security, and sacrifice any legitimate right to both.

My worry is the deeper, longer view. There are those on the net how can give chapter and verse on specific issues on the war with Iraq. But my greatest concern is that we are becoming the blind, dangerous crusaders Osama bin Laden said we were, along the way being the best recruiters Al Quaeda has ever had, and damaging our nationhood more than he could have ever hoped. We are trying to manipulate, bribe, or bully our allies into line. We are seeking to quash and indeed make illegal any dissent at home. It cannot work. It must not be unchallenged.

Yes, we have an obligation to protect ourselves and allies against those who are actively planning harm. But with ferociously destructive weapons, damaged economies, and loss of innocent lives in our immediate future, we must wait til we have the most damning evidence and commit to armed resolution only after all other options have failed. Saddam is a tyrant, and a murderer, and a scofflaw. But he poses less danger to us than Al-Quaeda, North Korea, and long term tax breaks in a recession. We have other pressing dangers. We should never intervene just because of the possibility of danger, becasue it *always* be there. We should not go alone. An isolated, brawling, Imperial America is not needed, nor wanted.

We have been the last best hope of the world for much of out history. I cannot say I agree with Lincoln now. Other nations shine brighter as lights for equality, freedom, civilization and economic fairness. I do not relish saying that, nor do I take any satisfaction in it. I can only hope we will repair the damage done to ourselves and our alliances and become a standard for other nations once again.

Suggested Reading:
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, relating how Athens turned their league of alliance into an empire and brought about their own defeat, even in the midst of their greatest acheivements as a democracy.


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