Mr. Bush and Mr. Friedman

Padraic Rohan’s Column

At the recent West Point graduation, Mr. Bush was a fountain. “Our nation’s cause has always been bigger than our nation’s defense.” Hmm. I think this is the part where we get told that America is looking out for the interests of humanity.

Then, “In our development aid, in our diplomatic efforts, in our international broadcasting and in our education assistance, the United States will promote moderation and toleration and human rights. The requirements of freedom apply fully to Africa and Latin America and the entire Islamic world.” Yep.

The only reason that this language is accepted is because people are stupid. And in the wealthy countries, especially America, this stupidity is part of a comfortable lifestyle, a sense of entitlement, and a desire for security.

“Some nations need military training to fight terror, and we’ll provide it. Other nations oppose terror, but tolerate the hatred that leads to terror. And that must change.”

We cannot examine and question enough, and it starts with the words in our own minds. These words that GWB is saying are of the grossest sort. To begin with, what is terror? Bombings, killing of civilians, designed to undermine the power structure, to call attention to a particular perspective. A guerrilla war with self-determination as an end.

The WTC attack was a mindblowing example. And obviously, the U.S. responds. It’s a war. And we hear rhetoric about eradicating terrorism, stamping out people who would dare to murder civilians and undermine “society.”

But hold the phone. The U.S. government has likewise murdered civilians, from Vietnam to Waco and points between. We can call it what we like, and the fact is that in a conflict, people have different perspectives. If the U.S. wants to rush blindly into conflict, fine. But failure to understand the other’s perspective only precipitates more conflict.

The United States has made a career out of supporting dictatorial regimes and militant groups WHO MOST CERTAINLY MURDER CIVILIANS, ostensibly to contain communism or fight terror. Isn’t this how Osama was created? And yet the U.S. plows ahead with the same old tired, destructive policy. So who’s the terrorist?

And does anyone truly believe that these wars are fought solely to protect Americans? Much, much less to “promote moderation and toleration and human rights,” or “the requirements of freedom” for the global south?

GWB doesn’t. It’s about power, and the power structure doesn’t like anyone threatening it’s supremacy.

“Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities.”

Really. An absolute morality. One side is clearly good and the other clearly evil. Expletive deleted.

It’s high time to point out that freedom is a word. And if we want to get together and talk about it, we can get somewhere towards understanding what we mean.

The myth that the U.S. is leading the world into a new era of freedom and prosperity must be shattered, destroyed, killed. The collective lifestyle of the wealthiest 20% of humanity destroys the environment, reduces human energy and natural resources to commodities to be bought and sold, and makes docile the workers that capitalists live off.

It doesn’t exist without the cheap labor of the poor countries, and it doesn’t function without oppression. No wonder people are fighting it. They want some self-determination.

Words like freedom, terrorism, democracy, and yes, god, must be thrown into the fire to be forged. They are tools of the power structure.

And just one word on Thomas Friedman. In his recent commentary for the times, he quotes a letter he recieved froma young Saudi woman after a visit there. “Thank you as a moderate Saudi for your efforts to expose what is going on in Saudi Arabia…Our schools teach religious intolerance, most of our mosques preach hate against any non-Muslims, our media is exclusively controlled by the government and religious people. Our moderate ideas have no place to be presented…Mr. Freidman, we need help.”

Is the United states in any position to “help”? Corporate consumerism run wild, every media outlet with a major circulation owned by the corporate power structure, an educational system with serious shortcomings, etc. The situation in Saudi Arabia is the flip side of the same coin. The pot once again calls the kettle black.

He says that the problem of terrorism really has nothing to with the west and the growing global power structure. It’s actually a problem within Islam. “…America and the West have potential partners in these countries (presumably members of Mr. Friedman’s moderate fan club) who are eager for us to help move the struggle to where it belongs: to a war within Islam over its spiritual message and identity, not a war with Islam.” parentheses mine

Hello, sunshine! U.S. foreign policy does absolutely nothing to invite terrorist attacks. Wew! What a relief! No problems over here. Let’s just make the world safe for democracy, and it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out.

Mr. Friedman, ignorance is no excuse. Islam is supposed to unify itself? How about Judaism, Christianity (or even unify the three of these), or Hinduism? Or you can shoot just a little bit higher and ask humanity to unify.

Padraic Rohan was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has taught elementary school and started an outdoor adventure not-for-profit organization.