USA: the World’s Last Best Hope

Some of our American friends don’t agree with our last Daily Connect, in which we point out that the Bush-administration poses a serious threat to freedom and democracy. They don’t see it. They demand proof. When we point out that the US is violating human rights openly and with total disregard for the opinion of at least some of its key allies, they just dismiss that. They choose to disregard the evidence.

The evidence is blatant. In Guantanamo Bay prisoners have been held without charge or trial for more than 5 years now. The so-called ‘extraordinary rendition-flights’ did take place and ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ (a poor euphemism for ‘torture’) were used to question detainees. Abu Ghraib was not a mistake; it was a policy. People were illegally abducted from the streets of European cities and questioned in secret prisons. The list goes on and on.

The US is still a great country

Despite all this, let’s be clear about one thing. We still have the greatest respect for the US, particularly for the principles it was founded on. Our problem is not the US. It is the Bush-administration. Not because we want to see a Democrat take over and continue the same policies. The Bushites are just handling the international situation completely wrong. Instead of understanding what the real problem is – a combination of poverty, corruption and repression in a great part of the world – and addressing that situation with political, social and economic measures, they try to impose their will on other countries violently. This is not the behavior of a civilized nation based on the rule of law. This is the behavior of a bully.

We have pointed out repeatedly that the US (as well as other countries) is spending about 1.000 times more money and effort on war and the war-machine (maintaining a standing army) than on peace. No wonder the world is in a mess. This gross imbalance is now made worse by the Bush administration, which wants to promote freedom and democracy around the world, but is using undemocratic and unfree means to achieve that. But we can only achieve good ends by good means. As the singer says: ‘You can bomb the world to pieces; you can’t bomb the world to peace’.

Ultimate remedy

Even if we grant that military action cannot be excluded under all circumstances, we still maintain that if military (or police) action is used by a free and democratic nation, the minimum amount of force required must be used and only when there really is no other remedy. Only when force is used as the ultimate remedy, may it be justified. Only then people can stomach it. Some people may be able to stomach anything (George Bush apparently is one of them), but when too much force is used, the cruelty will remain in people’s memories for a long time. The wound it leaves is not quickly healed and sooner or later it will find expression in some kind of retaliation.

Karma will not let anybody get away with injustice. If the scales are not in balance, they always balance out one way or the other. The fact that you have the greater force at this moment does not mean you have the greater justice. You cannot fool around with Cosmic law. Yes, there is negative karma as well, i.e. negative consequences caused by not doing what you are (morally) obligated to do. This leads to the question: Is the US morally obligated to stay in Iraq, or is leaving the better choice? This is between ‘Iraq and a hard place’. Both options are bad. This is what you get when you go in for the wrong reason: you can never right it afterwards.

Interconnected and interdependent

We agree with the Bush-administration on one thing. They have understood that all countries of the world are already interdependent and interconnected. Isolation is no longer a realistic option. In fact , it is impossible. For indeed, ‘if you do not go there (and make sure they can live in dignity there), they will come here’. This was brought home on 9/11. However, the US reaction was totally wrong. Self-righteous anger and arrogance took over and George Bush personally wanted to make a name for himself in history. Narcissism crept in. These factors form a lethal cocktail, as we have seen. George Bush and his Neo-cons are enough to take the possibility of a presidential coup seriously. Let’s pray it will not happen.

As an antidote to this gloomy message, we have selected a video about chili-peppers. Here is something you always wanted to know about chilies, but were afraid to ask. Put some pepper in your life! Totally unrelated, but fun.