Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sinking One's Teeth In, All The Way

At last, not a pile of indecipherable economic mish-mosh but something vaguely connected to the real world that I can work on!

No, really, leave it aside, because the moral question is irrelevant to the practical one. What will be the effect of this? Will it build the credibility of international justice institutions by proving that even the powerful US can be brought to heel?
No, don't leave it aside, because the practical question that must first be asked is, "Does torture work?" (Meaning, does it provide useful information to save the lives of thousands of people? Not meaning, "Does it entertain sadistic civilian prison guards double-dipping in the Army Reserve or National Guard?") How could it not build credibility to deal w/ Bully Number One?
We are still the country of Monroe and Roosevelt.
And all along I, for one, have been laboring under the illusion that this is now the country of hedge fund managers & corporate entities that move to overseas P. O. boxes to avoid paying taxes. Oh, &, uh, we'll assume Our Muse was referring to presidents, rather than shock absorbers, so, which Roosevelt, exactly? And if she does mean Monroe (of the doctrine) isn't a corollary of said doctrine that This Great Nation of Ours™ maybe shouldn't be occupying sovereign nations & stealing their resources for the profit of corporate entities through dubious legalisms?
It will only be after the damage is done that Americans will realize it is sometimes convenient to have allies, while Europeans belatedly discover that internationalism doesn't just run on solemn conferences and soft power. Not to mention how cute they'll all look trying to hem in Russian expansionism without the implicit threat of the American troops now stationed in their countries.
Ms. McArdle, if you're so damn smart as to realize all these things, why aren't you interested in somehow informing or advising Americans, especially, of these facts? "It won't work because: A) Americans don't realize allies are (sometimes) convenient, B) Most of the public will view this as an act of war," isn't much of an attitude to have. It is the duty of the privileged to educate &...oh, sorry, different group of privileged. Forget it.

(In passing, let's note that "Bobo" Brooks is also nervous about the Rooskies.
If we’re going to have a president who is going to go toe to toe with the likes of Vladimir Putin, maybe it is better that he should have a ruthlessly opportunist Fast Eddie Obama lurking inside.
What up? I thought the Chinese were our next "real" enemy? Can't they let go of the USSR/Russia? Not unlike a dog who gets close to rabid when you try to replace its old chew-toy w/ a newer, chewier one.)
It might be nice if international justice were like a real national legal system, where everyone, rich and poor, submits themselves to the impartial will of the courts. But it is not.

Oh, so much crap. "Might" be "nice?" Real national legal system?" "Everyone submits," yes, though some have greater & some lesser chances not to submit, & the quality of attys. & amount of money available to the defendant can, believe it or not, affect the outcome of a trial. "Far too much time in the Bat Cave," indeed, mlle.

This is not fair--life isn't, you may have noticed.

This particular piece of common, popular crap makes my blood boil. I'll make it perfectly clear: Life is arbitrary, people are unfair. Therefore, the unfairness of people can, it is to be hoped, change or be changed. Please understand that, & never, ever, use that bromide again.

I know that I have a lot of seething war opponents reading this, their souls screaming that the practical considerations are secondary to the moral ones. But the US flatly cannot be brought to heel in this manner, while other nations can. Shall we enjoy the righteous satisfaction of expressing our moral outrage, at the cost of severely eroding the international community's ability to encourage peace in the rest of the world? Only if you think that American politics is so overwhelmingly important that it overrides trivial considerations like dead Bosnians.

Uh? I understand a bit o' sarcasm is being used in the last sentence, but the entire piece prior argues that American politics will not allow ("is so overwhelmingly important") justice to be done, & does trump dead Iraqis, not to mention the several thousand Americans dead & many thousands more permanently damaged, in so many different ways. Why is bringing war criminals to justice reduced to "American politics" in the first place? And let's also face it, if one side says justice isn't important, we're too powerful to stand for accountability & punishment for bad decisions (not poor people though, they make a bad decision they have to pay for it!!) & yet our power is what makes all these international institutions able to save Bosnians, while the other side disagrees & calls for justice, punishment for criminals, accountability, responsibility & all the other glibertarian buzzwords, the whole thing transcends politics, because my side (DFHs) is obviously just & correct. Does she really think this is mere politics, that because G. W. Bush, war criminal or not, sets most peoples' teeth on edge, that this is all about "Bush Derangement Syndrome?"

Ms. McA. also, unconsciously, brings up another point. It is often said that the U. S. spends more on its military than every other nation on the planet combined. Not sure if this is absolutely true, but we certainly do outspend all the other large nations that might even remotely pose a threat to our sovereignty. And there's little question that much of these expenditures are wasted, poorly spent, lost to fraud, & so on. (Just like those welfare entitlements, right?) I now anxiously await a call from the Megatron to seriously cut military spending, so that our nation is no longer hostage to corporate cheaters, & so that we'll no longer be able to bully our way to immunity on the world stage. After all, if the only legitimate federal expense is defense, our defense dollars are being squandered, & we don't seem able to defend ourselves against a few religious wackos w/ box-cutters, shouldn't a severe pruning of wasteful spending be our number one priority?

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