Arrogance and Hypocrisy in U.S. Foreign Policy

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Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States...

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President Obama has chosen to lecture Egyptian President Mubarak on the issue of human rights. This is another instance of American arrogance and hypocrisy, as traditional conservatives such as Pat Buchanan and libertarians such as Ron Paul, as well as some on the left, have pointed out. The U.S. has a shameful history of violation of rights and, regarding the American Indians, genocide. The U.S. Army engaged in brutal tactics during the Philippine War in the early twentieth century. In World War II, the U.S. forced thousands of Japanese-American citizens into what de facto were concentration camps–the fact that they were not as brutal as the German camps does not make what the United States did morally right. The U.S. engaged in saturation bombing of Tokyo in March 1945, killing over 100,000 people with the firestorm created from gasoline-laden bombs. The U.S. is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in combat. The U.S. and its allies, violating centuries of just war theory, demanded unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers in World War II. In Vietnam there were multiple instances of abuse by U.S. Army personnel against the Vietnamese people; Lt. Calley’s unit was not the only one to engage in rape or kill civilians. In Iraq and Afghanistan, torture was the official practice of U.S. military intelligence personnel as well as regular army personnel. The U.S. has not eschewed the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict–not even with President Obama in power. And domestically, neither the FBI nor the ATF have clean human rights records, as FBI surveillance of American citizens and the ATF disasters at Ruby Ridge and Waco show. Now many countries engage in similar behaviors or worse–it may be the case, as blind patriots claim, that the U.S. has a better record on human rights than most other countries. But this does not justify our actions, nor does it justify the arrogance of President Obama in telling Mr. Mubarak how to run his country, especially since democracy in the Middle East tends to lead to radical Islamists coming into power. Perhaps Mr. Obama (and Mrs. Clinton) would prefer the Muslim Brotherhood to gain power in Egypt. If that happens, the powerkeg that is the Near East may explode.

In addition, U.S. policy holds that democracy is the best form of government for all nations. But as Aristotle recognized in his Politics, the best form of government for any state is going to depend on its history and traditions. But the U.S. continues to follow the neo-Puritanism of Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy and try to export “democracy” to the world–at the same time democracy is dying a slow death in the U.S. The rest of the world sees U.S. hypocrisy and hates us for it. The U.S. can do better than this–it can clean up its own house and avoid sticking its nose into every other country’s business. I hope such reform happens–but the secularist Puritan strand in American foreign policy is ingrained that I am pessimistic. We need more Ron Pauls, more Pat Buchanans, more true liberals such as Nat Hentoff, to join together in an effort to both stop U.S. abuses of human rights and also to encourage a “more humble” (as President G. W. Bush said in his pre-911 days) U.S. foreign policy.

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“Big Brother” is Back Again

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The FBI Seal where the circle of stars represe...

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A twenty-year-old Santa Clara student took his car to the mechanic. His mechanic discovered a strange wire hooked to a strange device. The student publicized the device to find out what it was, and the FBI came to his home, demanding its property back. It was a GPS device the government used to track the student. The FBI claimed its suspicions were raised by the student’s ties to the Middle East.

This should alarm both true conservatives (as opposed to “Red State Fascists” and Neoconservatives, who should be alarmed but are too thick-headed to be concerned) and true liberals. To those who defend this abuse of federal law enforcement power, I would say, “Who is next? Right now the government is focusing on Muslims, especially those from the Middle East. But they have also spied on peace activists. Will they spy on pro-life movement members, advocates of gun rights, members of the Tea Party movement? Are you, who support this kind of surveillance, going to be next?”

Although I do not take the Book of Revelation literally like some conservative Protestants, its point about the Mark of the Beast is well-taken. How far are we, really, from that scenario? It is time for liberals concerned about privacy rights to join with conservatives and libertarians concerned about government power over the individual to oppose the government’s spying on its own people. I had hoped that the Obama Administration would reverse the Patriot Act with the help of a supposedly liberal Congress. Instead, Mr. Obama has continued the falsely-called “Patriot Act’s” worst provisions and has demanded even more power for federal law enforcement. The government plays on people’s irrational fears to get them to support enslaving themselves to Big Brother.

Stop being afraid. Write your congressman or senator about this issue; let those in power know that the people, whom they fear the most, will not stand by without opposing the government’s increasing intrusion into their daily lives.