About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Bush vs. the Republicans
But what is really eye-opening (for the few left whose eyes ain't open yet) is that a President who has never been to active military duty is criticizing three men of his own party for being soft on terror, even though the three in question (and his own former Secretary of State, Colin Powell) have in fact been much more involved with military matters than Georgy boy himself. The offenders are John McCain (former prisoner of war), Lindsey Graham (military judge), and John Warner (former Secretary of the Navy and current Chairman of the Armed Services Committee). One has to wonder in amazement at the sheer audacity of W. and at his absolute conviction that he can do no wrong (then again, he has admitted in public that he regularly talks to God asking for personal advice on policy matters...).
The criticism of the latest Bush legislative attempt on terrorism, the one that would entail a “clarification” of the Geneva conventions, and which was prompted by the Supreme Court's rejection of Bush's inhumane and illegal way to handle terror suspects so far, builds on two crucial points. First, there is Powell's moral argument. In his letter to McCain he states that “the world is beginning to doubt our moral basis for the war against terrorism.” No kidding. That, of course, is the understatement of the year, but the point is clear: the US has always sold its foreign policies from a self-perceived high moral ground, and it has often succeeded in having most of the world see it that way (partly thanks to Hollywood's decades of extremely successful propaganda, of course). In some cases, that position was clearly justified (World War II, at least before the bombing of Dresden and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan), in others it was so preposterous that even Americans didn't buy it (Vietnam). Powell is doing too little too late (where was his sense of high morality when he lied at the United Nations about Iraq's WMDs?), but at the least now he's speaking up.
The second argument is McCain's, and it deals with the more practical consequences of re-interpreting the Geneva conventions (McCain has been, after all, acting very pragmatically while positioning himself for the '08 presidential race). He said that “weakening the Geneva protections is not only unnecessary, but would set an example to other countries, with less respect for basic human rights, that they could issue their own legislative reinterpretations.” To which Bush replied, in effect, bulls---.
The Decider-in-Chief has now gone so far as to claim that conservative, military men in his own party are undermining national security because they disagree with what he wants to do. This is delusion of grandeur that rivals that of Napoleon or Caesar (no, I'm not going to be drawn into a cheap comparison with Hitler...), and it could have lasting consequences for the next couple of generations of Americans. Unless the current generation finally wakes up and boots this horde of lunatics out of office in a little more than a month.