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Arthur Schlesinger:Today it is we Americans who live in infamy. (March 23, 2003)

Arthur Schlesinger:Today it is we Americans who live in infamy. (March 23, 2003)

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Published by phooey108
Schlesinger comments on the invasion of Iraq,and correctly predicts that the invasion will benefit Al Qaeda recruitment.
Schlesinger comments on the invasion of Iraq,and correctly predicts that the invasion will benefit Al Qaeda recruitment.

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Published by: phooey108 on Oct 21, 2010
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10/21/2010

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Good Foreign Policy a Casualty of War; Today, it is we Americans who live in infamy
  Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
.
Los Angeles Times
. Los Angeles, Calif.: Mar 23, 2003. pg. M.1We are at war again -- not because of enemy attack, as in World War II, nor because of incremental drift, as in the Vietnam War -- but because of the deliberate and premeditated choiceof our own government. Now that we are embarked on this misadventure, let us hope that our intervention will be swiftand decisive, and that victory will come with minimal American, British and civilian Iraqicasualties.But let us continue to ask why our government chose to impose this war. The choice reflects afatal turn in U.S. foreign policy, in which the strategic doctrine of containment and deterrencethat led us to peaceful victory during the Cold War has been replaced by the Bush Doctrine of  preventive war. The president has adopted a policy of "anticipatory self-defense" that isalarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor on a date which, asan earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy.Franklin D. Roosevelt was right, but today it is we Americans who live in infamy. The globalwave of sympathy that engulfed the United States after 9/11 has given way to a global wave of hatred of American arrogance and militarism. Public opinion polls in friendly countries regardGeorge W. Bush as a greater threat to peace than Saddam Hussein. Demonstrations around the planet, instead of denouncing the vicious rule of the Iraqi president, assail the United States on adaily basis.The Bush Doctrine converts us into the world's judge, jury and executioner -- a self-appointedstatus that, however benign our motives, is bound to corrupt our leadership. As John QuincyAdams warned on July 4, 1821, the fundamental maxims of our policy "would insensibly changefrom liberty to force ... [America] might become the dictatress of the world. She would no longer  be the ruler of her own spirit." Already the collateral damage to our civil liberties andconstitutional rights, carried out by the religious fanatic who is our attorney general, isconsiderable -- and more is still to come.What drove the rush to war? Hussein has a significantly smaller military force than he had in1990, and he has grown weaker as more weapons have been exposed and destroyed under theUnited Nations' inspection regime. The cause of our rush to war was so trivial as to seem idiotic.It was the weather. American troops, our masters tell us, will lose their edge in the Persian Gulf'smidday sun; so we had to go to war before summer. This is a reason to rush to war? We have,after all, a professional army -- and a professional army ought not to lose its edge so quickly andeasily.There is a base suspicion that we are going to war against Iraq because that is the only war wecan win. We can't win the war against Al Qaeda because Al Qaeda strikes from the shadows anddisappears into them. We can't win a war against North Korea because it has nuclear weapons.
 
Indeed, the danger from North Korea is far more clear, present and compelling than the danger from Iraq, and our different treatment of the two countries is a potent incentive for other roguestates to develop their own nuclear arsenals.How have we gotten into this tragic fix without searching debate? No war has been moreextensively previewed than this one. Despite pro forma disclaimers, President Bush'sdetermination to go to war has been apparent from the start. Why then this absence of dialogue?Why the collapse of the Democratic Party? Why let the opposition movement fall into the handsof infantile leftists?I think the media are greatly to blame. There have been congressional efforts to jump-start adebate. Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Robert C. Byrd of WestVirginia have delivered strong and thoughtful speeches opposing the rush to war. They have been largely ignored by the media. Some philanthropist had to pay the New York Times to printthe text of Byrd's powerful Feb. 12 speech in a full-page advertisement -- a speech ignored bythe media when delivered. The media have played up mass demonstrations at the expense of thereasoned case against the war.According to polls, a near majority of ill-informed Americans believes Hussein had something todo with the attacks on New York and the Pentagon and resulting massacre of nearly 3,000innocent people. Hussein is a great villain, but he had nothing to do with 9/ 11. Many, perhapsmost, Americans believe a war against Iraq will be a blow against international terrorism. Butevidence from the region indicates very plainly that it will make recruitment much easier for AlQaeda and other murderous gangs.What should we have done? What if opposition to war had received a fair break from the media?There are two strong arguments for the war -- that Hussein might down the road acquire nuclear weapons, and that the people of Iraq deserve liberation from his monstrous tyranny.Unlike biological and chemical weapons, nuclear arms -- and their production facilities -- arehard to conceal. Inspection, surveillance, tapping telephone calls and espionage could check anynuclear initiative on Hussein's part. He is containable, and he is not immortal.The more powerful argument is humanitarian intervention. This comes with ill grace from anadministration that includes people who showed no objections to Hussein's human rightsatrocities when he was at war with Iran. But do we have a moral obligation to fight despicabletyrants everywhere?Hussein is unquestionably a monster. But does that mean we should forcibly remove him from power? "Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled,"Adams said in the same July 4 speech, "there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy." We are now going abroad to destroya monster. The aftermath -- how America conducts itself in Iraq and the world -- will provide thecrucial test as to whether the war can be justified.

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