micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
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Sunday, February 22, 2004
We care a lot like Faith No More
Once upon a time Al Haig was at least as much the Secretary of State as he was a punch line and the policy of the U.S. government was that fighting terrorism and protecting human rights were not one in the same, and that the former was more important.
Now, however, the U.S. knows better and fighting terrorism and promoting human rights, freedom, democracy and all sorts of other good things is seen as mutually inclusive activities.
This change hasn't been the result of a linear change. As Rodger A. Payne has noted, Bush campaigned in 2000 on the idea that the U.S. military should only be used to defend U.S. interests, not human rights as Bush said the Clinton Administration had done. At the same time, the Persian Gulf War in 1991, which was run by the current president's father, in the words of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000), "presented the United States as the only power able to manage international justice, not as a function of its own national motives but in the name of global right."
The exact course that U.S. policy took to achieve this change isn't as important as that beyond any doubt it became part of the rhetoric of the "war on terror" at the very start of that "war." This past November 6 Bush said:
Liberty is both the plan of Heaven for humanity, and the best hope for progress here on Earth.Or so the Bush Administration wants us to believe.
Too bad they can't make this argument with any sort of consistency. In the same speech, Bush says, " For the Palestinian people, the only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy."
And, two days ago, the Haig of today said, "We hope other governments, too, like Syria, will realize that chemical weapons and other WMD programs won’t make their countries safer, their people more prosperous, or their own hold on power more secure. To the contrary. It goes in the other direction."
Lady Liberty cares about the second half of her name just enough so as to give those who are deemed to be the antithesis of what it wants tips on how to maintain their power.
It isn't just in rhetoric that the Bush Administration has problems carrying through on promoting freedom. In a statement from Monday, the International Institute for Strategic Studies writes:
President George W Bush’s administration has on many occasions, since 11 September 2001 argued that when governments respect both the rule of law and human rights, the contribute to a world where terrorism cannot thrive. For this reason, as well as the US commitment to the promotion of its values, the US claims that it will not relax its vigilance when it comes to the advancement of human rights. However, since 11 September there are many examples that suggest the US has compromised its stance in the sphere of human-rights promotion, as it searches for military bases, intelligence cooperation and political support in the struggles against terrorism.Kim Sengupta of The Independent has more on the IISS's findings.
A February 18 report by Carl Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives makes it clear that the U.S. military has worked to keep knowledge of how many civilians have been killed by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq from impacting public discourse. If Bush and friends actually cared, they would want to know what impact their actions were having and they would want others to know as well. After all, it was Bush who, in the same November 6 speech quoted above, said, "Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite."