Friday, November 4, 2011

Post #40 - Moral Deafness

Some of our recent leaders seems to have the ethical equivalent of leprosy. That requires some explaining, I know. In his book, A World Waiting to Be Born, M. Scott Peck, MD cites the peculiar way in which this disease disables, which serve as metaphor for moral decay:

"The primary way in which the causative agent, Hansen's bacillus, wreaks its havoc is it affinity for settling along those nerve fibers that carry the sensation of pain and then destroying them. It thereby creates a condition of painlessness. A leper [might] severely burn her fingers while not realizing she had placed them too close to the flame....Pain is a signal of disease, not the disease itself. Indeed, it is primarily a disease-preventing mechanism. Without it we would all quickly become crippled...we need to experience pain for our healing and health."

President Bush often appeared unconcerned about poll numbers, public criticism or international condemnation. Donald Rumsfeld was curiously impervious to any advice from subordinates that contradicted his own conceptions. Richard Cheney sought no advice from those who opposed him and still evinces a complete lack of caring about their outrage. On the whole, this group appeared to experience none of the "pain" that can lead us to remove our hand from the stove, or go to the doctor to close a wound. They are not humbled by war as Lincoln was, haunted by dissent as Lyndon Johnson was, or even infuriated by attacks as Nixon was. So, wounds fester and infection runs rampant in the body politic. "Most of the evil in this world," Peck says, "is committed by people who are absolutely certain that they know what they are doing."

Ron Paul (R-TX), a Libertarian member of Congress, speaking on the floor of the House, put this is a geopolitical context: "Intervention just doesn’t work. It backfires and ultimately hurts American citizens both at home and abroad. Spreading ourselves too thin around the world actually diminishes our national security through a weakened military. As the superpower of the world, a constant interventionist policy is perceived as arrogant, and greatly undermines our ability to use diplomacy in a positive manner."

John R. Bolton
Yet, as the presidential elections of 2004 approached, people such as John R. Bolton, we now know from his book Surrender Is Not an Option, was actively working against a diplomatic approach. As then-U.N. ambassador, he undermined the efforts of two secretaries of state, first Gen. Colin Powell, then his successor Condoleeza Rice, to follow the Europeans' lead in developing a package of "carrots" for Iran to match our military strength, as inducements to begin a real dialogue. He is reported as having admitted that he "used every possible bureaucratic and diplomatic maneuver to kill Powell's plan [to forge a deal with Iran]. He succeeded.

In October of 2007, Black Commentator was sympathizing with Rice, seeing her undercut at every turn by neo-conservative factions who do not support her efforts to engineer peace in Palestine or the resolve the Iranian impasse peacefully. They quoted Shmuel Rosner, chief Washington correspondent for Haaretz, as saying dismissively, "Nothing in Rice's career has prepared her for this Middle Eastern bazaar. It is hard to see how she will emerge from it with a valid achievement in hand...Rice insists that Bush strongly supports her moves. Maybe she knows something that others don't see yet."  I wish that had been so.

While we are nearly out of Iraq, in terms of major troop presence, the war in Afghanistan drags on, and most of the 700+ military bases we maintain around the world are still open for business. The Pentagon may have allowed some cuts in certain weapons programs, but the total cost of our "defense" continues to increase, year-by-year, despite the end of the Cold War over twenty years ago. The situation in Israel/Palestine is no closer to resolution. Quite simply, "It's deja vu all over again" as Yogi Berra put it.

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