Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Call a spade a spade|
|04/17/01 at 11:55:29|
|harley Reese |
Drop political euphemisms -- call a spade a spade
Language these days is used more often to confuse and mislead than it is to communicate. There are some terms that we, as a people, should insist that our government define in an intelligent manner.
Years ago, when there was a friendly dictator in the Sudan, the United States quickly dispatched fighters and AWACS radar planes to Egypt after Libya's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, said something cross about the Sudan.
Just for the fun of it, I called the State Department and asked why we were so eager to defend Sudan. You should have heard the bravo sierra that poured forth. The more I asked the guy to tell me, specifically, just what our national interests were in phe Sudan, the more flustered and annoyed he became.
He never did tell me, but that was OK, because I already knew.
Only a month or two before, an old newspaper colleague who had become a world adventurer showed up in the parking lot, fresh from Sudan. Among the tales he told me was that Standard Oil of California had just discovered a pretty big oil field. He knew because his company ferried supplies out to the site.
That was our "national interest." A sweetheart deal with a dictator by an American oil company. It was a good two years later before I saw any reference at all in American newspapers to that oil.
"National interests" and "Stability in the region" are just meaningless terms used to dupe the American people. Our true national interests can be specifically defined. And stability in a region a long way from our shores is irrelevant to our welfare.
We have a national interest in freedom of navigation. Because this interest is shared by every nation, it really hasn't been a serious problem in the past few decades.
We have a national interest in seeing that American citizens, provided they break no laws, are treated fairly in foreign countries. We have no interest at all in rescuing Americans who commit criminal acts or who involve themselves in other countries' conflicts.
It's in our national interest that no one should interfere with voluntary trade between our nation and other nations. But guess what? The United States is the villain par excellence when it comes to interfering with voluntary trade between nations. We have sanctions in one form or another on nearly 60 nations.
I have to point out that Fidel Castro's Cuba is an exception. Our sanctions against Cuba apply only to American firms. Cuba is, and always has been, free to trade with all the other countries in the world -- and does so.
Cuba is not poor because Americans can't do business there. Cuba is poor because Castro is a thief, a man whose word is no good, a poor credit risk and an incompetent but vicious tyrant.
Nevertheless, Congress ought to get over its imperial illusions and confine itself to doing its constitutional duty and stop meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.
One of the most pernicious propaganda phrases was born out of NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia: "Intervention for humanitarian reasons." Now that's a crock and a flaunting of the law of nations.
There are two things to say about this nonsense.
One, no humanitarian problem is ever going to be solved by killing people and destroying property.
Two, given the cowardice of the Western nations, you can be sure "intervention for humanitarian reasons" will be highly selective and confined to only small, defenseless countries.
It's strange, indeed, that the United States should assert the right to attack another nation "for humanitarian reasons" when it refuses to allow United Nations peacekeepers to protect the Palestinians from very inhuman treatment by the Israelis.
All of this arrogance, cowardice and hypocrisy is caused in part by our departure from our republican roots. In a republic, elected officials from the president on down are just ordinary citizens hired on a temporary basis to do jobs the rest of us are too busy to fool with.
Sometime around the Kennedy administration, people began to look upon politicians as though they were gods, or at least emperors. Since the days of the Revolution, some Americans have hungered for a king. Some Americans are so psychologically debilitated that they long for a Daddy Figure to tell them what to think and what to do.
Naturally, this adoration and celebrity go to the heads of the politicians, most of all to the least intelligent and accomplished.
Walt Whitman, the poet, warned that if Americans were to avoid tyranny, they absolutely had to preserve "their roughness and spirit of defiance."
"Resist much, obey little," he advised on another occasion.
The first thing to do is throw these political euphemisms into the dustbin of language where they belong.
Reach Charley Reese at 407-420-5315 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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