Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Rat's been acurious about American ideals. Which are curious indeed since non-American people seem to have them too. If possession is nine-tenths of the law, then we're losing our ideals at an alarming rate. Which may go a long way toward explaining why they're so hard to live up to. The slipry critters just don't stay put.

Unfortunately whether here or elsewhere the people who have them never seem to be the same as the people in charge. Funny how that works. Somebody ought to write a book about that someday...

Some apt observations from teh Chomsky on our values and the current situation. Which suggests as a first cut answer, that we fail to meet our ideals because "we" actually contains an "us" and a "them"; which distinction them goes to great lengths to erase in the minds of us. Equity 101 meet C. Wright Mills:


The December 2007 report did not mention other good news: Iraqis appear to accept the highest values of Americans, which should be gratifying. Specifically, they accept the principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal that sentenced Nazi war criminals to hanging for such crimes as supporting aggression and preemptive war-the main charge against Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop, whose position in the Nazi regime corresponded to that of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. The Tribunal defined aggression clearly enough: "invasion of its armed forces" by one state "of the territory of another state." The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan are textbook examples, if words have meaning. The Tribunal went on to define aggression as "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." In the case of Iraq, the murderous sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing, the destruction of the national culture and the irreplaceable treasures of the origins of Western civilization under the eyes of "stuff happens"-Rumsfeld and his associates, and every other crime and atrocity as the inheritors of the Mongols have followed the path of imperial Japan.
Since Iraqis attribute the accumulated evil of the whole primarily to the invasion, it follows that they accept the core principle of Nuremberg. Presumably, they were not asked whether their acceptance of American values extended to the conclusion of the chief prosecutor for the United States, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who forcefully insisted that the Tribunal would be mere farce if we do not apply its principles to ourselves.

Needless to say, U.S. elite opinion, shared with the West generally, flatly rejects the lofty American values professed at Nuremberg, indeed regards them as bordering on obscene. All of this provides an instructive illustration of some of the reality that lies behind the famous "clash of civilizations."

A January poll by World Learning/Aspen Institute found that "75 percent of Americans believe U.S. foreign policy is driving dissatisfaction with America abroad and more than 60 percent believe that dislike of American values (39 percent) and of the American people (26 percent) is also to blame." The perception is inaccurate, fed by propaganda. There is little dislike of Americans, and dissatisfaction abroad does not derive from "dislike of American values," but rather from acceptance of these values and recognition that they are rejected by the U.S. government and elite opinion.



These are the preferences of the overwhelming majority of Americans and also Iranians in polls by World Public Opinion, which found that Americans and Iranians agree on basic issues. At a forum at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies when the polls were released a year ago, Joseph Cirincione, senior vice president for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress, said the polls showed "the common sense of both the American people and the Iranian people, [who] seem to be able to rise above the rhetoric of their own leaders to find common sense solutions to some of the most crucial questions" facing the two nations, favoring pragmatic, diplomatic solutions to their differences. The results suggest that if the U.S. and Iran were functioning democratic societies, this very dangerous confrontation could probably be resolved peaceably.

And just for yuks, while we're throwing polls around, I'm sure you saw that:

The CBS News-New York Times poll released Thursday showed 81 percent of respondents said they believed "things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track." That was up from 69 percent a year ago, and 35 percent in early 2002.

Which apparently means that 100% of Americans think there are "things" that need to be "on a track". What steering prodigy will bravely helm our National Locomotive in this time of crisis? Will it be stopped short to avoid crushing the damsel tied, immobile and helpless in its path? Can it make it out of the valley fast enough to escape being boarded by banditoes or injuns? Will America make it to The Future in time?!

Tune in next week...and the next week...and the next...and the one after that...


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