Monday, November 20, 2006

Stupid anti-Bush moral equivalency

Now I’m no friend of George W Bush. I carry no truck for his Christian conservatism, but the USA is not becoming a theocracy or even close. I don’t support the use of torture by any government. I believe there have been some ridiculous reductions in civil liberties in the USA, but regardless of that it is still fundamentally no less free than most other western liberal democracies. Bush’s record domestically in my book is that, while there are some positives in tax cuts, he has increased spending willy nilly and proven himself as much of an interventionist in some areas (education) as his predecessors. He is not a great President.
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On the international arena I support his attacks on Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the succour for Al Qaeda and itself was ruled by a brutal stoneage regime that was highly oppressive, and treated all citizens, particularly women and girls, in virtually Old Testament biblical fashion. While Afghanistan could be have been undertaken better, Bush was a liberator and should be applauded by all liberals for that.
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I supported the action against Iraq. It was justified for two reasons. Firstly, under international law Iraq had broken umpteen UN Security Council resolutions regarding inspections of its weapons facilities. This gave sufficient evidence, particularly given its previous nuclear and chemical weapons programmes (and use of the latter), that it was developing such weapons and would use them. The assurances of a dictatorship that there are no such weapons are as worthless as the piece of paper Chamberlain brought back from Munich. A nuclear armed Iraq would have changed the Middle East balance of power, encouraged Iran to do the same and threatened Israel. Iraq had been warned time and time again that action would follow words, so action was justified, after 11 years of breaches. Secondly, the Saddam regime was odious. It was murderous, barbaric and on its own back, was imperialistic. It started the war with Iran, regardless of US support at the time. Don’t forget the current US administration is not the Reagan administration operating in the Cold War. It also had attacked Kuwait and Israel, hardly a peace loving regime. It executed thousands of citizens every year for opposing the regime or for getting in the way of the Hussein mafia that ran the place. There was no moral justification for the Hussein regime to claim it had the protection of international law, as it was not interested in peace with other states and it treated its citizens as subjects.
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The overthrow of the Hussein regime is something to be celebrated, the commission of the occupation and institution of a democratic government has been a disaster. I could go on about how it could have been done better, and of course, the casualties since the coalition of the willing occupied Iraq. Few notice that the main source of deaths comes from Islamist insurgents, but apparently these are the fault of the USA, which should leave Iraq alone to be overrun by them.
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Beyond Iraq, Bush called North Korea, Iraq and Iran part of an axis of evil. He was wrong to consider them in a way that appeared that the three countries operated in concert, as they do not. However he is dead right. The Iranian theocracy is evil, it completely denies freedom of religion and freedom from religion, it denies liberal democracy and free speech, it engages in imprisonment, torture and execution of political prisoners, as well as executing teenagers for crimes such as having consensual sex with adult men. It is a sponsor for terrorism in Israel and the occupied territories, as well as Lebanon and Iraq. Have no mistake, an Iranian style regime would deny many fundamental freedoms and be a dark deathly oppressive life. North Korea is worse. Kim Jong Il runs and essentially owns a slave state. A state with internal passes, with citizens classified according to loyalty to the regime, and where entire families are punished for crimes against the state, including children. Torture and execution are a matter of course, and there is no freedom of speech of any kind. Absolute control of the media and speech Orwellian style is life in North Korea. It is the closest to hell on earth.
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So this is why I get absolutely incensed when otherwise reasonably intelligent people like Idiot Savant engage in the most stupid and despicable moral equivalency when criticising George W Bush.
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I agree that there should not be restrictions on freedom of speech if Bush visits New Zealand or restrictions on protest, as long as these do not threaten the President. I also believe any state visits should minimise restrictions on freedom of movement, consistent with maintaining adequate security. However to say Bush is “a man who by rights should be in a cell next to Saddam Hussein” is absurd. Bush’s greatest crime has been the use of torture and creeping restrictions on civil liberties. I would welcome the newly elected congress engaging in an inquiry about the use of torture and its use being terminated. However, Bush is not Saddam, Kim Jong Il or Ahmadinejad, not even close. He understands, more than most on the left, what the war against Islamist terror is about. It is not a clash of civilisations, because Islamist philosophy is not civilised - it is a war against people who want society to be a misogynistic stoneage theocracy. Bush is not the greatest defender against this threat, but his use of torture, while a graven and immoral mistake - does not justify him being seen as the likes of Hitler, Milosevic or Saddam.

6 comments:

Free Thinker said...

And here we see the ignorance that enshrines "It can't happen here" thinking. Talk about "America is always right" naivete. Hold on tight to that fantasy-world buddy, cause it must make you feel very proud. You know, I actually want my country to act right, so I call things for what they are.

A few points:

1. Kuwait drilled for oil sideways into Iraq's fields (that's called stealing!), so he invaded to stop it. As much as I hate to say it, he was more justified in invading kuwait than we were in invading Iraq (who had never attacked or threatened to attack, and, despite your proclamations that he couldn't be trusted, the physical evidence (you know, reality) says that he was telling the truth about having destroyed his weapons). It's never as cut and dry as your television will tell you.

2. It doesn't matter whether "Islamist insurgents" (what? are they foreign fighters or local, or are you trying to confuse here?) are killing more people or not ... our stated goal has been to lure jihadists to iraq to fight them there, and anyone who's ever tried to justify the war to me has alluded to this "brilliant" strategy. As a result, we now have an Iraq that has more torture and death than during Saddam's era, with no signs of slowing down. Which is why what we have done is morally abhorent, just like lots of things Saddam did.

If you want to justify this war, you have to use cruel, cold logic that puts the lives of any american above those of 650,000 dead iraqis. For what? security? what a joke. The money spent in iraq could have been used to scan every cargo container for nuclear radiation (you know, something that would actually make us safer). Instead we've introduced medievel levels of torture and suffering on an innocent iraqi population.

Your pleas of "But Saddam was BAAAAAD, so we must be GOOOOOD" is sophomoric and really poorly analyzed.

Plenty of bad people actually prevent things that are worse than themselves.

In other words, you know that family down the street with the abusive dad? Why doesn't someone kill that guy? I mean, he beats his wife! Nothing worse than that, right?

But if you killled the abusive dad, would you really expect the family to thank you? Do you really know that they'd be better off? The answer to both is a resounding no! But it doesn't matter, because IT'S NOT YOUR PLACE TO MAKE THAT DECISION FOR THAT FAMILY.

So yeah, GWB is a dangerous, foolish, callous man, and people have been hung for wreaking far less desctruction than he.

Lex said...

Now I’m no friend of George W Bush. I carry no truck for his Christian conservatism, but the USA is not becoming a theocracy or even close.

Since you don't live here, take it from someone who does ... and who has been getting paid to watch the nexus of politics and religion for most of the last 20 years: We're a helluva lot closer to a theocracy than we should be, and a helluva lot closer than most people realize.

Now run along. The grownups are talking.

libertyscott said...

I don't think America is always right, but the contrast between the USA and the totalitarian world is vast. Funnily enough it wasn't just the USA, but almost all of the world that supported kicking Iraq out of Kuwait.

The 650,000 Iraqi casualty figure has been fisked by no less than http://www.iraqbodycount.org .

By your logic free thinker, it would have been immoral to overthrow Hitler had he simply undertaken the holocaust because "it is not our choice to make the decision for the family". What utter rot, if you think that abused, oppressed people have choice you've been living in the free world for far too long.

Lex: The constitution is under serious risk? I think that there is a sufficient majority of Americans uninterested in theocracy that it would not survive, but I could be wrong. By the way, simply fuck off, if you want to comment on my blog leave a comment, don't be a vile little insulting prick, it shows your own immaturity. More helpful if you provide evidence to convince me, rather than be an adolescent.

Lex said...

The constitution is under serious risk?

Well, only if you consider habeas corpus and religious freedom important.

I think that there is a sufficient majority of Americans uninterested in theocracy that it would not survive, but I could be wrong.

An uninterested majority would not, by itself, prevent a theocracy. Half the adults in this country don't vote, remember? Besides, how many people would it take to fill, say, the Oval Office, the Supreme Court and the most senior Congressional leadership positions? And that's the problem: A lot of these folks have gotten into influential positions without a lot of noise having been made about it.

By the way, simply fuck off, if you want to comment on my blog leave a comment, don't be a vile little insulting prick, it shows your own immaturity. More helpful if you provide evidence to convince me, rather than be an adolescent.

Speaking of vile, insulting pricks, you just have no idea how much of an idiot you come across as when you comment on things about which you know nothing, do you?

If you'd like some documentation, please read Michelle Goldberg's book "Kingdom Coming" (Amazon info here). I think you'll find it enlightening. You might also peruse this article.

libertyscott said...

Lex, as I said I am happy to see evidence and thank you for it. I will seek out the book for reading on my summer/end of year break.

It is clear, as I said before, that I am willing to be convinced I am wrong. I have not the slightest time for theocracy, as should also be clear.

I would rather be thought of as an idiot, open to being convinced I AM wrong, than respond to someone I disagree with by saying "your wrong and you're too stupid to know better". I insulted you because you decided to insult me on my turf. I understand being angry that someone else doesn't realise something that is obvious to you, particularly when it is important. However, I have in my life held a number of views that I think are ridiculous now. If this is one, then I am happy to concede when I have read the evidence.

Regardless there is a very strong case for a non-partisan defence of secular USA - though I don't think the Democrats are armed with enough arguments to do so. A theocracy is a risk regardless and an ethical defence of secularism is critical.

Lex said...

Regardless there is a very strong case for a non-partisan defence of secular USA - though I don't think the Democrats are armed with enough arguments to do so. A theocracy is a risk regardless and an ethical defence of secularism is critical.

On that much, at the least, we quite agree.