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« Democracy and Melancholy in America | Main | It is the green-eyed monster that mocks the meat it feeds on.. »

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burritoboy

"For instance, I think the authoritarianism of the Bush Leaguers is the authoritarianism of criminals rather than the authoritarianism of actual totalitarians"

First, there's the fact that there are at least two other regimes that are evolving very similarly to the Bush regime - Berlusconi's Italy (which predates 2000, actually) and Putin's Russia. While Berlusconi is even more of a criminal than the Bush Leaguers, this is clearly not simply a one-off event.

Second, this is also precisely one of the largest misunderstandings that the Social Democrats under Weimar made concerning the Nazis. While there were certainly plenty of Nazis who were simply outright criminals, understanding that phenonmenon through that lens proved a disastrous misunderstanding.

Lies

I would like to point out that, though you may have thought WWIII was imminent at that time, it was not imminent in reality at all. The "cold war" was mostly a tool, used by government, to unite, control, etc.
Since the Berlin wall came down and "communism" is all but extinct, a new boogyman comes along: the muslim terrorist. Whatever it takes to keep those defense budgets growing, and growing, and growing...
The US military has a yearly budget of 330 billion dollars. That's per year! That's 18.000 dollars per hour, starting at the birth of christ. How can ANYONE justify that? Seriously, do Americans even know this? And if they do, why don't they protest more? Social programs are being slashed left, right and centre, supposedly because there is no money. Well there is money. Lots of it. 330 billion dollars per year, in fact. And what is it being spent on? Destruction, mostly. Of other people's lives and homes. In the middle East, in Latin America, in Africa. And you wonder why some of them hate America? Let me clue you in: no matter how often BushCo repeats it, it's NOT because they hate freedom!
Sorry for the ranting, this whole thing just makes me SO MAD!
Anyway, keep up the good work!

Ted Raicer

I haven't much patience with Burritoboy's argument myself. Of course the present is affected by the past, but start down that road and there is no logical stopping place and one ends up with the sort of argument that blames Hitler on the Roman defeat in Germany 2000 years ago.

Of course the US government has always been severely flawed-human beings are severely flawed. But in fact Clinton (hardly my favorite President) was NOT W., never mind Truman or Roosevelt, and if the past made W. possible, it hardly made him inevitable-as Gore's actually winning in 2000 demonstrates.

As for the Cold War, thanks to the paranoia and ideological edge of the American Right, we certainly exaggerated the Soviet threat and committed many crimes (at home and abroad) in reacting to it, but Stalin was not an invention of the United States, and it was the nature of the Soviet government that made some form of Cold War almost inevitable. And the possibility of a nuclear war during the height of the Cold War was not an invention to keep us in line-we came terrifyingly close to stumbling into one more than once.

As for the size of the US military, we certainly spend much more than we need to (and have at least since Ike left office) though until recently we could more or less afford the expense. And no, most of that money was never spent on destruction abroad, but on welfare for engineers and admirals here at home. (The anti-welfare South has long lived off the money from defense spending.)

As for this:

>In the middle East, in Latin America, in Africa. And you wonder why some of them hate America? Let me clue you in: no matter how often BushCo repeats it, it's NOT because they hate freedom!

It also isn't because of the last 50 or 100 years of US foreign policy (which has more than its share of crimes but also its share of actions that benefited the world) as can be shown by comparing the poll numbers on US approval abroad 5 years ago and now.

As superpowers go, the US record is better than some and no worse than most-that is until quite recently. That's because W. doesn't represent simply a continuation of the past, but a break with the past. That's because W. is the first time the far-Right has had complete control of the US government.

While I'm sure a moral revolution would be a very good thing, I neither expect one or believe it a requirement for progress. For myself, I'll settle for getting the GOP out of office.

mamayaga

W is not Clinton, but the American people are still the American people. We really haven't undergone any sea change in the last 15 years. I am reminded of this every time I start to feel the appropriate moral revulsion about our preemptive invasion of Iraq, and remember our preemptive invasions of Panama and Grenada (not to mention many other episodes of American gunboat diplomacy). In moral terms, what is the difference among those examples? In every case the American government ginned up an excuse to take out the legitimate government of another country that did not and could not have threatened us. The big difference is that Panama and Grenada were successful (that is, successful as colonial enterprises in that we pacified the locals fairly quickly and very few Americans died). Do we agonize over Panama and Grenada the way we do about Vietnam, and the way we will for the next 40 years over Iraq? No? Why not? Because the American people are all for imperialistic adventures that succeed, and only punish failure. This is one current of our river that has not changed, from the War of 1812 to now (one could say really from the war of conquest of the native people). When we as a people gain the moral maturity to forestall this kind of adventure before it happens, then I will believe that we have moved forward.

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