6/23/2003

 

Empire building and democracy don't mix

 

In the July/August issue of “Atlantic Monthly” is an important article in the "know your opposition" category. Anyone who is trying to push us away from democracy is in opposition to what's good for the U. S. The author of the article, Robert D. Kaplan, is advocating empire building, and that is contrary to democracy. He has been an active voice for the same strategies advocated by some of President Bush's inner circle. An example is his book "Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos". (He misuses the word “Pagan” not to mean the ancient European religion, but to represent amoral thinking.)

 

He is in sync with this set of goals and values currently being labeled "empire building", and lets fall from his own pen more than enough fruit to reveal what kind of tree this is. He wants to skip over the question of whether the U. S. should be in the business of empire building in order to get on with advising us how to be more devious and domineering so as to build a bigger empire. Here are a few of his gems:

 

As a way to avoid the inconvenience that public opposition creates when trying to dominate some part of the world he suggests we "...keep the public's attention as divided as possible. We can dominate the world only quitely: off camera..." He says that the press naively casts some of our international actions as being about "...'democracy,' 'economic development,' and 'human rights,'..." even when those in power know that that "...conceals the harsh...ground-level truths." He suggests we encourage this deception.

 

He doesn't seem too concerned about whether we get it right, saying, "..the United States will periodically have no choice but to act pre-emptively on limited evidence...". He spends a long paragraph going on about what idiots almost all of the public is and how only a few at the top know what's good for them and those few should do what they like despite what the public wants (ignoring that even when the people are wrong, that is their right in a democracy.) Finally he says that while we should go on letting a deluded press use those phrases "...'democracy,' 'economic development,' and 'human rights,'..." (he puts these in quotes, as if to imply they are not for real) our leaders should think with what he calls a "pagan", that is to say, an amoral, mindset.

 

That this is all wrong should not need to be pointed out. You tell me, how we can adopt this mindset and still be who we are? How can we expect our leaders to be devils when dealing with the world yet behave saintly by running an open, truthful government at home? How can we adopt such values and still expect to maintain democracy and rights? The most basic wisdom tells us this won't work. Yes, there may be times that war is unavoidable, and war is war. But this guy isn't talking about when it's unavoidable. He's talking about going out and making war, and domination, and empire building, and starting right off with the most under-handed, dirty-tricks, lie-to-the-people, do-it-all-in-the-dark methods. This is a sick, sick mindset. The promoters of it are hoping that by repeatedly talking about it as if it’s a done deal that it simply gets accepted as okay, as the way it is, as the norm. It needs to be nipped in the bud.

 

It does pay to know the opposition. More of the article can be found on my website, and links to the “Atlantic Monthly” article, and an extended response I have submitted to them.