Thursday, July 01, 2010

rabin quote

pdf of New York Times article

Friday, September 12, 2008

In fairness to Sarah Palin recently ran an article by an Iranian-American writer, Arash Kamangeer, in which he likened Sarah Palin’s touting of her son’s upcoming service in Iraq to an appearance made by an Iranian "show mom". This is the term he uses to describe the women who were trotted out by the Iranian government to raise morale by showing their willingness to send their sons off to fight in the Iran-Iraq war. (The Iranians would usually wait until that son was martyred to do so, but the principle is the same.) Of course, family members being proud of their children’s military service, and governments using them to promote the war effort is not unique to either the Iran-Iraq war or the current US war in Iraq. In fact, this sort of propaganda has probably been used by every government that ever waged a war.

Presumably, every mother who ever sent a son off to war would be proud of his service. French mothers were proud of their sons being sent off to kill Germans just as German mothers must have been proud of their sons being sent off to kill Frenchman. But certainly a mother’s pride is no substitute for a statesman’s judgment.

Wars still have to be justified on their merits. And all too often, the imagery of a mother proudly sending her son off to war is used to avoid that central and most important question for any statesman, in this case for the mother who would be a statesman – should a war be fought in the first place?

On this point, the criticism from Kamangeer gets stronger:

And then I wake the next morning and read that Sarah Palin is quoted as saying that the Iraq war is a "task that is from God."

Surely, if this snippet is accurate, then this mother who would be a statesman has not only dodged the question, but made the very asking of it into a form of blasphemy. Indeed, she was quoted by the associated press as having said just that:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told ministry students at her former church that the United States sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a "task that is from God." ...

But subsequently the AP article softens it a bit with a slightly longer quotation.

“Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," she said. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."

Fortunately, the full video is available and bears a more careful viewing.

At about the 3:40 mark she begins to discuss the Iraq war, and her son’s upcoming deployment there. At that point she says the following:

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan. So bless them with your prayers, your prayers of protection over our soldiers.

It should be noted that Mrs. Palin was speaking extemporaneously, and her sentence structure is such that one can’t properly quote a single sentence (much less a phrase) withoutthe possiblity of giving a misleading interpretation.
Her full point can’t be properly summed up as simply declaring the war in Iraq a “task from God”. Reading the fuller context, and hearing the inflection in her voice puts a rather different meaning on to it A more reasonable reading is that she is actually telling her audience to pray that the tasks which our national leaders give to our military should be tasks that are from God, or part of God’s plan.

This is, of course quite different. To pray that one’s national leaders act in a way which is consonant with God’s plan, or His will, (or as some would define “God’s will” as being according to His code of moral instruction) - this is very different than simply declaring a particular thing a “task that is from God”, as some have claimed.

Indeed, to pray that one’s national leaders act in accordance with God’s will is what anyone who loves his country and believes in God would do. It is also something that only the most militant and obnoxious of atheists could possibly complain about – either that or a militant partisan of the opposing party who is utterly lacking in a sense of fair-mindedness.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Bill Clinton’s Fairy Tale about Barack Obama

After watching former President Clinton’s rant, it might be worthwhile to examine more closely his latter comments regarding Senator Obama’s claims.

"That is the central argument for his campaign. You – “It doesn’t matter that I started running for President less than a year after I got to the senate from the Illinois state senate. I am a great speaker and a charismatic figure, and I am the only one who had the judgment to oppose this war from the beginning – always, always, always."

It is, of course, very easy, and quite unfair, for Mr. Clinton to decide what constitutes the “central argument” for someone else’s campaign. But his anger as well as his derision of Senator Obama’s lack of experience (Mr. Clinton’’s wife was elected to the Senate 4 years before he was) does indicate that Mr. Obama’s purported claim regarding his superior judgment has struck a nerve.

“First it is factually not true that everybody that supported that resolution supported Bush attacking Iraq before the UN inspectors were through. Chuck Hagel was one of the co-authors of that resolution. The only Republican Senator that always opposed the war. Every day from the get-go. He authored the resolution to say that Bush could go to war only if they didn't co-operate with the inspectors and he was assured personally by Condi Rice as many of the other Senators were. So, first the case is wrong that way."

This is an absurd mischaracterization of the clear meaning of the 2002 Resolution to Authorize the Use of Military Force Against Iraq. The resolution may have made some preambulary references decrying the absence of weapons inspectors in Iraq since 1998, but the operative paragraphs, - the ones which actually authorized the use of force - did not make it contingent on Iraqi non-cooperation with the weapons inspectors.

In fact, a careful reading of the resolution shows that it was so broadly crafted as to allow the President to launch military action if he merely determined that peaceful means “will not adequately protect the national security of the United States” against what the resolution, itself, calls “the continuing threat posed by Iraq”.

Regardless of anything that Condoleezza Rice purportedly said to Chuck Hagel, the resolution on which Mrs. Clinton voted “yes” was clearly what its short title said - an “Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq”. It was not authored “to say that Bush could go to war only if they didn't co-operate with the inspectors,” as Mr. Clinton alleges.

Furthermore, for Mr. Clinton to claim that “it is factually not true that everybody that supported that resolution supported Bush attacking Iraq before the UN inspectors were through” is silly. According to the Constitution, Congress has the sole authority to go to war, and if members of Congress really don’t support the launching of a war, they shouldn’t vote to authorize it. The vote cast by a legislator is what is critical, not some statements made after the fact.

If Mrs. Clinton and the other members of congress had only intended to threaten military action, and to only use force if the Iraqi regime failed to comply with specific demands (allowing weapons inspections, or whatever), then they could have written those demands into the resolution – but they didn’t.

Incidentally, Mr. Clinton’s claim that Chuck Hagel was “the only Republican Senator that always opposed the war” is also factually incorrect. Senator Lincoln Chaffee, of Rhode Island, opposed the war, and was so opposed that he actually exercised his responsibility and voted “no” to the war authorization bill, while Senators Hagel and Clinton voted “yes”.

(In 2006, Mr Chaffee was rewarded for his courage by being voted out of office.)

Mr Clinton’s second claim is also interesting:

"Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say, that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your website in 2004 and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since?' Give me a break.”

“This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen!”

Mr. Clinton’s statement that it is “wrong” for Senator Obama to have gotten to go through several debates claiming that he always opposed the war deserves to be examined. Indeed, questions of war and peace are obviously very important, and if the greatest distinction between the two candidates is that one can claim to have had better judgment in consistently opposing an unnecessary war, while the other voted to authorize it, then the issue should be thoroughly investigated.

Of course, at the time the war resolution was passed, Mr. Obama was still serving in the Illinois state senate, and since the legislature of Illinois doesn’t have the authority to start a war, he didn’t actually get the opportunity (or have the responsibility) to vote on the matter, while Mrs. Clinton was then serving in the US Senate, and did. Consequently, one can only judge Mr Obama’s position by his statements.

If Mr Clinton’s accusation that, “you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution” is a full and accurate portrayal of Mr. Obama’s statements at the time, then he would have something of a point. And although no one could claim that Senator Obama bears any responsibility for starting the war (as opposed to Mrs. Clinton, who undeniably does), still this would indicate that his judgment on the issue wasn’t always so unswerving as he is currently making out. Therefore, it is worthwhile to pour through some of Mr Obama’s past statements, in order to assess the accuracy of Mr. Clinton’s claim.

Mr. Obama’s speech at an anti-war rally in October of 2002 (concurrent with the passage of the war resolution) was a clear statement of his opposition. The eloquence and clarity of that speech, as well as its publicity, has obviously had an impact - and this seems to be what has fueled Mr. Clinton’s ire. (Whether or not Mr. Obama continuously maintained that speech in a prominent position on his web-site doesn’t amount to much – there is no record of his disavowal of it.) Also in a November, 2002 interview on a local talk show, ‘Public Affairs With Jeff Berkowitz', Obama stated "If it had come to me in an up or down vote as it came, I think I would have agreed with our senior Sen. Dick Durbin and voted 'Nay’.” The Obama campaign has compiled numerous press reports where he is quoted making similar unequivocal statements over the past few years.

Still, regardless of Mr Obama’s eloquent opposition in 2002, it is worth looking into whether Obama stated in 2004 that he didn't know how he would have voted on the resolution, as Mr. Clinton alleges.

It should be noted that in July of 2004, Mr. Obama was slated to be the keynote speaker at the Democrat National Convention, a convention which was in the process of nominating John Kerry, who had, like Mrs. Clinton, voted for the war authorization. Under such circumstances, Mr. Obama would have obviously been somewhat reticent about denouncing the vote of his party’s nominee – but what should be determined is whether his reticence had developed into equivocation. Is it really a full and accurate description of what Mr. Obama said at the time that he didn’t know how he would have voted on the resolution?

Mr Obama was interviewed by three different press outlets on or about July 25, 2004. Fortunately, with the internet, a more full description and/or transcript is available, making it unnecessary to simply take a man like Bill Clinton at his word. Those articles and/or transcripts deserve to be quoted at length.

The July 26, 2004 edition of the New York Times contained excerpts from an interview conducted with Mr. Obama:

In a recent interview, he declined to criticize Senators Kerry and Edwards for voting to authorize the war, although he said he would not have done the same based on the information he had at the time.

"But, I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports," Mr. Obama said. "What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made."

On the July 25, 2004 edition of NBC NEWS' MEET THE PRESS,Mr. Obama was also questioned on this matter by Tim Russert. Excerpts from the transcript follow:

MR. RUSSERT: You also said this: "...I also know that Saddam possesses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history."

The nominee of your party, John Kerry, the nominee for vice president, John Edwards, all said he was an imminent threat. They voted to authorize George Bush to go to war. How could they have been so wrong and you so write (sic) as a state legislator in Illinois and they're on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees in Washington?

STATE REP. OBAMA: Well, I think they have access to information that I did not have. And what is absolutely clear is that John Kerry said, "If we go into war, let's make sure that we do it right. Let's make sure that our troops are supported. Let's make sure that we have the kind of coalition that's necessary to succeed." And the execution of what was a difficult choice to make was something that all of us have to be concerned about. And moving forward, the only way that we're going to be able to succeed is if, I think, we have an administration led by John Kerry that's going to allow us to consolidate the relationships with our allies that bring about investment in Iraq.

MR. RUSSERT: But if you had been a senator at that time, you would have voted not to authorize President Bush to go to war?

STATE REP. OBAMA: I would have voted not to authorize the president given the facts as I saw them at that time.

MR. RUSSERT: So you disagree with John Kerry and John Edwards?

STATE REP. OBAMA: At that time, but, as I said, I wasn't there and what is absolutely clear as we move forward is that if we don't have a change in tone and a change in administration, I think we're going to have trouble making sure that our troops are secure and that we succeed in Iraq...

On CNN's "Late Edition"” , also on July 25 2004, Mr Obama had this exchange with Wolf Blitzer”

BLITZER: ... you're going to talk about some of the issues.

Was the war in Iraq a mistake?

OBAMA: I think that it is clear that the numbers were fudged, that we shaded the truth, because I think there was a predisposition to go in, and wasn't based on facts on the ground.

But I think what's most important now and what John Kerry is focusing on now is going forward, how do we being together the international community to invest in the reconstruction in Iraq and make sure that we're relieving some of the pressure not only for American taxpayers, but also from our service men and women.

BLITZER: Had you been in the Senate when they had a vote on whether to give the president the authority to go to war, how would you have voted?

OBAMA: You know, I didn't have the information that was available to senators. I know that, as somebody who was thinking about a U.S. Senate race, I think it was a mistake, and I think I would have voted no.

BLITZER: You would have voted no at the time?

OBAMA: That's correct.

BLITZER: Kerry, of course, and Edwards both voted yes.

OBAMA: But keep in mind, I think this is a tough question and a tough call. What I do think is that if you're going to make these tough calls, you have to do so in a transparent way, in an honest way, talk to the American people, trust their judgment...

Clearly, Mr Obama was scrupulously avoiding an attack John Kerry for his war vote. His intention appears to have been to allow Mr. Kerry some wiggle room, based on the possible existence of intelligence reports that may have been available to Senators, but not the general public. (Obviously, no such intelligence has surfaced regarding the fabled, and non-existent, WMD.)

But each time he tried to give that wiggle room, by pointing out that he wasn’t in the senate at the time, and that one can’t really say, definitively, what one would do in a different set of circumstances, he also pointed out that from where he was at the time, that he was clearly opposed. His statements were actually quite straight forward:

“What I know is that from my vantage point the case (for war) was not made.''

“I would have voted not to authorize the president given the facts as I saw them at that time”

“I know that, as somebody who was thinking about a U.S. Senate race, I think it was a mistake, and I think I would have voted no.”

There is no way that any honest or fair minded person could interpret Mr. Obama’s words as anything but forthright opposition. And only a thoroughly dishonest partisan would truncate Obama’s statements the way that Bill Clinton did, and he was obviously doing so only to mischaracterize them.

Indeed there is a fairy tale being told, but the one telling the fairy tale is Bill Clinton, not Barack Obama. And the fact that Bill Clinton can tell such fairy tales with extreme vim and vigor, while at the same time accusing others of doing so, only demonstrates that he has not lost his unique “gift” for being self-righteous, hypocritical, and vehement and at the same time utterly deceptive.

Notes in the margin
This offering should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Barack Obama - I have no intention of voting for him in the upcoming primary (I support Congressman Ron Paul). My only reason for researching this topic and sharing that research in this post is that I wish to support and defend the anti-war movement. To that end, I find this attempt by a notorious liar to cloud the issue, and mischaracterize opponents of the war as fence-straddlers while averring that those responsible for this war shouldn't be held accountable to be reprehensible.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Public Service Announcement
For all wives and potential wives

On proper behavior during the Super Bowl

During tonight's football game please refrain from idle chatter.

Do not discuss issues like painting the room, changing the draperies, who is doing the idiotic half-time show, how long the game will last, or where the kids will go to school, etc.

Please limit your comments to more intelligent and appropriate statements like "Hit him!", "Knock it down!", "Throw the ball!", "Block him" or "Block it" (depending on whether your husband’s team is running the ball or the opposing team is kicking it).

Wives (and especially potential wives) may also ask relevant questions like "Would you like more chips?", "Shall I get you a drink?" etc. But it is preferable for them to ask those questions while there is a lull in the action – while the teams are in the huddle, or better still, during commercials.

Lastly, do not, under any circumstances start cheering for the opposing team - that is considered Treason, and generally will not be tolerated.

These rules are made available for the benefit of wives who wish to keep their husbands and most especially for girls who are seeking to get a husband. Men are often enticed by women who act in a certain way, under the mistaken assumption that such behavior will continue after the marriage ceremony.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Shocking Video - Senator Speaks Truthfully and from the Heart

Senator Chuck Hagel (Republican of Nebraska) made the following comments during the recent (24 January, 2007) hearings of the Senate foreign relations committee.

The video was shocking enough, in that a US Senator is apparently speaking from the heart, about an issue as important as war and peace. The meaningless platitudes, which usually make up the bulk of the speeches on foreign policy, were totally missing.

But what was truly astounding were the statements which Mr Hagel made beginning in the 6th minute, or so of his speech.

He said:
This is not about terrorists who don’t like freedom.

In that one simple statement, he clearly, and unmistakably dismisses the premise of the whole “Iraq is the central front in the war on terror” theme.

He then goes on to point out that terrorism is a tactic, and not a belief. This is, of course, an obvious reality, but one that is seldom articulated, because it would undercut the whole basis for the Bush policy in Iraq.

But what is really remarkable, is the intervening statement, which Mr. Hagel made regarding the Palestinians “who have been chained down for many, many years.”

Of course, everyone who is at all familiar with the situation there would know this, but generally the comments made by politicians in the US are in support of more efficient chains to tie them down, or more often set in the context of how best to provide “security” for those doing the chaining.

Mr Hagel’s comments made no mention of Israeli needs or demands. This makes it truly remarkable, and almost unheard of behavior in the United States Senate.

Desperate times often produce desperate measures, and perhaps the war, and the seeping realization that our leaders took us to war (at the behest of the Zionists) for no apparent legitimate reason, may lead to politicians taking the desperate measure of actually speaking the truth.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Responsibility for the Iraq War

As the war in Iraq becomes less and less popular, there is more and more finger pointing over responsibility for having started it. This is, of course, understandable. Whenever things go badly, people try and blame others and/or attempt to show that they were not alone in making the mistake.

Many people point out that nothing productive really comes out of the blame game, and there may be some truth to that argument. However, if mistakes were indeed made, it is worthwhile to examine what actually happened in order to, perhaps, avoid making a similar mistake in the future. For this reason, it might be beneficial to examine the actual Authorization for the Use of Force Against Iraq, passed in October of 2002.

After a lot of gibberish about how Saddam Hussein is a bad guy, and after acknowledging past congressional and UN Security Council resolutions against him, the meat of the authorization is contained in section 3:


(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.

In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. .

It is important to read this section of the document carefully. Some who have merely glanced at it, might argue that the use of "and" in subsection 3(a) between clause (1) and (2) requires that both those causes must be present for the authorization to be valid, but this is clearly not the case.

The "and" is subject to its context as part of the "authorized … in order to" language. If someone is authorized to take an action in case (1) and in case (2), this means that either one or both of the reasons are sufficient cause for action.

This is made obvious by the language in the subsequent notification requirements given in subsection 3(b)(1) wherein the "either…or" construct is used for the same two causes:

(1)reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

Obviously, it wouldn’t make any sense to require both (a) and (b) but only require notification of either (a) or (b).

The resolution does have an additional stipulation, clause 3(b)(2), written into the notification portion, which goes beyond the other two possible causes.

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001..

It is connected to the previous clause, 3(b)(1), with “and”. In that instance, because of the context, the use of "and" makes the second part of the determination absolutely indispensable. But the language used in that paragraph is so broad as to render it legally meaningless. To require that acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with something just means that it mustn’t be directly contradictory to it. In reality, many have pointed out that Iraq is totally unrelated to terrorists and the events of September 11, 2001, but it would be hard to claim that the war there is contrary to a response to them.

In sum, the resolution gives the President authority to use force in order to enforce Security Council resolutions (whether the resolutions themselves have military enforcement mechanisms is not really addressed – they don’t), and also to defend the national security of the United States against what the resolution declares to be “the continuing threat posed by Iraq”. This being the case, it is almost impossible to argue that the President acted outside Article I, section 7, paragraph 11 of the US Constitution, which grants to congress the exclusive authority to declare war.

The only conditions, which the resolution puts on the President have been satisfied by his simple notification that either one or the other of the stated causes could not be adequately addressed by peaceful means.

As an epilogue, it should be noted that the President’s letter of March 18, states that he had determined that peaceful means would neither adequately protect the national security of the United States nor lead to the enforcement of the relevant UN resolutions.

Since the relevant resolutions all addressed the issue of weapons of mass destruction (wmd), and since it has since become painfully obvious that Iraq was not in material breech of those resolutions at the time of the war, it can be argued that the President went to war based on a falsehood (or at any rate a mistaken determination).

However, that false determination was not indispensable to his going to war under the congressional authorization. The resolution, itself declared Iraq to be a “continuing threat”, and made this an acceptable cause for military action. Therefore, the claim that the President exceeded his authority, and that congress or, more precisely those members of congress who voted for the authorization, are, somehow, not responsible for the current imbroglio can not be sustained.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Left and Right, and the Anti-war movement

A virtual friend recently asked me if I was indeed, a conservative. Apparently, since his blog and mine tend to focus on Zionism, and the new imperialism (which seems to have developed in its wake), and since we tend to agree on those issues, he was somewhat surprised to see that we come from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.

It is, of course, somewhat ironic that my friend, a British Jewish leftist, and I, an American Christian right-winger, would find so much common ground, but the phenomenon is by no means unusual. In fact, I thought it such an interesting anomaly, that it was worth analyzing.

During the run up to war in 2003, George Will wrote an article in which he sought to denigrate the case against the war by making lots of absurd accusations against those who were opposed to it. Virtually all of the claims on which he based his accusations, turned out to be wrong. But beyond this, he concluded his article by ascribing the basest, and most ethno-centric motivations to the groups opposing the war.
Conservative isolationism--America is too good for the world--is long dead. Liberal isolationism--the world is too good for America--is flourishing.

Of course, no liberal or conservative ever voiced their opposition in those terms, and I would imagine that most conservatives, as well as liberals would have responded (just as I did) that theirs is a more middle position – not that America is too good or too bad to intervene in the affairs of other countries, but simply that it would be better to let Iraqis handle their own affairs, and that by invading Iraq, we weren’t really doing them any favors. Just as patriotic Americans would prefer that other countries not interfere in our affairs, so we should not really interfere in theirs.

Mr. Will was using the classic straw man argument, project a false argument, and then refute it, (or in this case, simply attack the motivations of ones opponents, in order to dismiss them out of hand). And of course, it is not really valid. However, in all of Mr. Will’s faulty arguments and absurd slander, he does seem to have touched upon the intriguing phenomenon, which had taken my (virtual) friend aback. Namely, that those who would be considered far right, or far left are more likely to be opposed to the war, than those who would be considered center left or center right.

Of course, people like George Will would try and make the argument that their opponents are just extremists, and this might serve their interest, but it doesn’t really explain it. Why would the far left and the far right agree on an issue against the center? It certainly can’t be ascribed to the machinations of a cabal of political rivals. This is a broad trend, which is far more perceptible among the general population than the political elites. And of course, in general, the far left tends to agree with the center-left far more than with the right on most issues, and vice versa – why should this one be so different?

Perhaps the formulation of reducing the dispute between far right and far left on one hand, and the center right and center left on the other, misses the point. Perhaps the real dispute is between the apparatchiks on the one side and the hard-core ideologues on the other, and that the same forces are prevalent in each grouping.

The term apparatchik is, of course, a Russian word, and is usually used in the context of the peculiar system of the old Soviet Union, but it is a term which also means a zealous functionary whose position in the apparatus drives him to support the policy of the party to which he belongs.

Of course, Republicans and Democrats in the US don’t really have extensive party apparatuses. But, like all ruling groups, they do have various organizations, (in this case - think tanks, foundations, political action committees, as well as relatively unimportant party apparatuses) which are used to execute, or more precisely, promote, their policies. But beyond the functionaries of the dominant ruling parties, there are the various hangers on, as well as those whose level of political interest is limited to a mere identification with one or the other major party.

They are to be contrasted with the hard-core ideologues, the true believers, of whichever faction, who support the left or right only because those parties stand for the same things that they do. Their positions on particular issues usually have to square with their ideological principles, and if they can not be made to do so, these ideologues generally become dissidents. Toeing the party line is most often left to the apparatchiks.

It stands to reason that those who are a part of the ruling group, or groups, are far too concerned with their positions to take the risk of being seen as radicals or dissidents. This same principle applies to a slightly lesser extent, to those who merely identify with the governing parties or groups. This is part of the process of political socialization. To be taken seriously, as a member (or potential member) of the ruling group, one has to accept and follow the party line, even if that party line conflicts with one’s broad generally accepted principles.

Under no circumstances can someone in that position afford to be seen as “outside the mainstream”. In modern American political parlance, that accusation is the equivalent of anathematizing someone in the Catholic Church. Virtually, every political debate between candidates for office in the US involves this charge being made by one side against the other, since that is seen as the quickest, surest way to dispatch one’s rival. And, just as political debate on television, or in print, is usually an attempt to resonate with the general population, the general population often mimics the political debate which they see conducted by the elites on television.

Obviously those ideologues who are considered hard right or hard left are more accustomed to being called “outside the mainstream”, and have long since lost any sensitivity to the label. Likewise, they are largely immune to the other pressures of political socialization. (Some would say that their cantankerousness creates a reverse process of political anti-socialization, and there may be an element of truth to this.) Consequently, although most of the politicians in congress would willingly authorize a war of aggression, either out of support for their leader or out of fear of having their patriotism questioned, those who are already outside the mainstream feel no need to do so.

They, the extremists (if one prefers that term), can simply stand on principle. If there is no logical justification for the war, then they feel no inhibitions about opposing it. After all, only a lunatic would believe that the decision to go to war is one that can be made without a sound reason, and support for a sitting president and/or congress doesn’t get it – at least not for those who are inclined toward more independent thinking, or those who stand on first principles.

This is true of those whose ideological orientation is toward the left or the right. After all, the traditional Christian approach to just war doctrine, is consistent with the definition of ”Crimes against Peace” in the Nuremberg principles, the requirements of Article 2 of the UN charter, and the Kellogg Briand Pact.

Some issues, like war and peace, simply transcend the traditional left-right divide.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?