Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What Bush Didn't Say : If You Want Peace, Work for Justice

Some thoughts on last night's state of the union address:

Tonight the state of our Union is strong, and together we will make it stronger.

Perhaps it is. After all, we've been one of only two economic and military superpowers in the world for over a half century, and the only superpower for the last twenty years. The state of the union ought to be strong. The question is, is the state of our union as strong right now as it ought to be. Or, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, are we better off now than we were five years ago?

The only way to protect our people, the only way to secure the peace, the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership. So the United States of America will continue to lead.

The question is, where are we being led? Where are we leading others to? Yes, leadership in the world is good. Dictatorship is not. Leadership that seeks out economic justice and human rights is good. Leadership that favors elite groups over the powerless, that favors the interests of money over the interests of people is not. Leading by the example of 217 years of democratic values is a good thing. Abandoning democratic values -- American values -- at home and attempting to impose something we call "democracy" on others is not.

Dictatorships shelter terrorists, and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror.

Well. Where in the world is Luis Posada Carriles? And telling Americans, "If you are not a terrorist, you have nothing to fear from domestic wiretaps" is hardly respecting the rights of citizens.

Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world.

The question is, why is Osama bin Laden still a free man? Why did we never commit more than thirteen thousand troops to Afghanistan? Why did we invade a country that had no links, to al Qa'ida, no weapons of mass destruction, and nothing to do with terror attacks on US soil? What do we do now about terror and what do we do about terrorists? We have created the Iraq that is a haven, breeding ground, and training camp for terrorists. As hateful as Saddam Hussein was, he kept Iraq free of radical Islamic terror.

It is here that Bush might have -- and should have -- echoed the words of the late Roman Catholic Pontiff, Pope Paul VI : If you want peace, work for justice.

It is a rarely recognized demographic reality -- our mass mediated fixation on celebrity, sports, and pseudo-patriotism keeps us IN THE DARK about such things -- that much of what we consider the "third world," the under-developed areas of the earth, are overwhelmingly Islamic. North and Northeastern Africa. Western and southeastern Asia. Southeastern Europe. Indonesia, the Phillipines, Morocco, the Northern Marianas Islands (thank you, Messrs. Abramoff and DeLay) are places where sweatshops, poverty, and prostitution (forced or free) abound.

Bush and the PNAC ignore this inconvenient fact. They are NOT representative of the kind of leadership America is capable, and NEEDS.

Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed and move this world toward peace.

I absolutely reject the notion that this administration is attempting, in any way, shape or form, to "deliver the oppressed." Deliverance from oppression will entail rejecting and overruling the arbitrary and irrational "invisible hand" of un-regulated, laissez faire, "free-market" capitalism, and ensuring that people -- here in the US and around the world -- are not exploited and hurt by a global consumerism. Just ask the late Roman Catholic Pontiff Pope John Paul II.

More on the address later.

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