Friday, October 21, 2005

Chapter 9: World Despots vs. The People of the United States

The international relations community adds to the nation as a person metaphor what is called the rational actor model. The idea here is that it is irrational to act against your interests, and that nations act as if they were rational actors.-individual people trying to maximize their gains and assets and minimize their costs and losses.“ But, “There is an alternative way of thinking about foreign policy .... The premise is that when international relations work smoothly, it is because certain moral norms of the international community are being followed. This mostly goes unnoticed, since those norms are usually followed. We notice problems when those norms are breached. Given this, is makes sense that foreign policy should be centered around those norms. The Moral norms I suggest come out of what in Moral Politics I called Nurturant Morality.”

This statement asserts that the “world community” currently adheres to Nurturant Morality in their dealings with each other; Progressives feel various nations do not currently engage in bad behavior toward each other because of the threat of reprisals and possibly war, but because they feel empathy for the needs of other nations. Ironically, Lakoff also asserts

“We must be the change we want! The foreign policy of moral norms is the only sane foreign policy. In the idea of responsibility for oneself, it remains practical. But through empathy and other forms of responsibility (protection, care, competence, effectiveness, community development) it would lead to international cooperation and a recognition of interdependence”

This statement implicitly recognizes that the Nations of the world DO NOT CURRENTLY follow Dr. Lakoff’s “Moral Norms”, and is, in effect, just a reiteration of the Progressive belief that others will adopt Nurturant Morality and values if they see an example. “We Must be the Change we want” is a quote from Gandhi, who was fighting a highly developed Western Nation, whose ethics had already led them to lead a war to abolish Slavery world wide (including in India). Gandhi believed the British Empire to be a benign institution, and knew that non-violence was the only tactic that an unarmed people might use to prevail over a militarily superior foe. It pre-supposes a National ethic against genocide on the part of the British. Gandhi also said “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good” It is mere foolishness to assert that Gandhi's tactics or Moral Leadership will work universally with Atheist Dictators who abuse their own people (and who define the National Ethic in one man) , or with Islamic Radicals (Whose ethics demand death to the infidels). Moral Leadership will simply not work in these situations, and advocating such a thing is cooperation with evil. Ironically, Dr. Lakoff, says:

“Radical Islamic Fundamentalists hate our culture. They have a worldview that is incompatible with the way that Americans—and other Westerners –live their lives… What about the First cause [of Islamic hatred for the U.S] -- The radical Islamic Worldview itself? Military action won’t change it. Social action won’t change it. Worldviews live in the minds of people. How can one change those minds—and if not present minds, then future minds? The West Cannot. Those minds can only be changed by moderate and liberal Muslims—clerics, teachers, elders, respected community members… we depend on the goodwill and courage of moderate Islamic leaders. To gain it, we must show our goodwill by beginning in a serious way to address the social and political conditions that lead to despair… Most Islamic would-be martyrs… have grown up in a culture of despair; they have nothing to lose. Eliminate such poverty and you eliminate the breeding ground for most terrorists – though the September 11th terrorists were relatively well-to do.”

Here, in addition to negating his own argument about poverty, Dr. Lakoff negates the idea that “Nurturant Morality” practiced by Westerners would have ANY effect on terrorists. However, even if poverty is accepted as a factor, Dr. Lakoff does not acknowledge that the source of this poverty is rulers who keep the majority of the people uneducated, and who make no expenditures on promoting a stable infrastructure of roads, schools or rule of law. “When the Bush Administration speaks of eliminating Terror, it does not appear to be talking about eliminating cultures of despair and the social conditions that lead one to want to give up his life of martyrdom” It doesn’t even occur to Lakoff that a regime change followed by a stable democracy might just accomplish that, just as it did in 1776.

Instead Dr. Lakoff says “we are supposedly fighting them [Islamic Terrorists] because they killed innocent civilians. That made them evil. If we do the same, are we any less immoral?...In Conservative morality, there is a fight between good and evil, in which lesser evils are tolerated and even seen as necessary and expected. The argument that killing innocent civilians in retaliation would make us as bad as them works for Liberals, not for conservatives” No one has ever talked about deliberately targeting and killing innocent civilians in retaliation (except the terrorists.) The intent of the Terrorists was to kill as many innocents as possible, the goal of the U.S. military is to kill a few civilians as possible while trying to eliminate our enemies. To Progressive, any war or violence would be hypocritical and a contribution to terror : “If the United States wants terror to end, the United States must end its own contribution to terror. And we must also end terror sponsored not against the west, but against others”

Progressives believe that no moral principle can be carried out unless we have the resources and ability to carry it out everywhere and at the same time. These examples bolster the idea that Progressives to not understand the idea of trade-offs. To progressives there is no moral difference between those who target military enemies (and accidentally kill civilians) and those who target civilians (and accidentally might kill a few soldiers). Progressives deny that you are limited to the choices actually available, and that any outcome desired can always be selected. Contrastingly, Dr. Lakoff says Conservatives believe that “only superior strength can defeat evil, and only a show of strength can keep evil at bay. Not to show overwhelming strength is immoral, since it will induce evildoers to perform more evil deeds, because they will think they can get away with it. To oppose a show of strength is therefore immoral. Nothing is more important in the battle of good vs. evil, and if some innocent noncombatants get in the way and get hurt, it is a shame, but it is to be expected and nothing can be done about it. Indeed, performing lesser evils in the name of good is justified” Conservatives believe that sometimes one must decide between undesirable (and possibly immoral) paths and Moral Trade-offs are sometimes required to ensure survival.

Lakoff says the progressive value of “Protection translates into an effective military for defense and peacekeeping” and that “Protection is part of the Progressive Moral System, but it has not been elaborated on enough. And on September 11, progressives did not have a whole lot to say. That was unfortunate, because nurturant parents and progressive do care about protection. Protection is important. It is part of our Moral System” I believe they had little to say, because it isn’t American Citizens they are interested in protecting.

Progressives have routinely tried to cut military and intelligence budgets, and Dr. Lakoff himself said of 9/11: “Justice is called for, not vengeance. Understanding and restraint are what is needed. The model for our actions should be the rescue workers and doctors – the healers – not the bombers. We should not be like them. We should not take innocent lives in bringing the perpetrators to justice”

Ironically, Karl Rove was blasted by the Democratic party for saying almost the same thing.

Dr. Lakoff accuses the Bush administration of propagating a false “rescue scenario [where] the victims are (1) the Iraqi people and (2) Saddam’s neighbors, whom he as not attacked but is seen as threatening. That is why Bush and Powell keep on listing Saddam’s crimes against the Iraqi People and the weapons he could use to harm his neighbors…Most of the American people have accepted the idea that the Iraq war is a rescue of the Iraqi people and a safeguarding of neighboring countries. Actually, the war threatens the safety and wellbeing of the Iraqi people”

So as a practical matter, who is protected by Progressive Foreign policy? The Terrorists, the Countries that Harbor them, and the countries that have political or financial agreements with those countries. It does nothing to protect United States citizens or the victims of despots. In truth, the only thing the Progressives are really interested in Protecting is their own illusion of Moral Purity. Progressives routinely protect this illusion by opposing all actions that might be perceived as having a non-altruistic motive.

Dr. Lakoff believes “The reason for the resentment against the United States, both in Europe and elsewhere, stemmed from a widespread perception that American interests really lay behind the invasion of Iraq.” “Millions of people around the world can see that the metaphors and fairy tales don’t fit the current situation… the lack of a credible link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda, no WMDs found”

Progressives tend to only support the U.S. where there is no obvious benefit or self-interest and actions appear to be altruistic. Thankfully there were no Progressives running the show in France during the revolutionary war (fought over a Tax on Tea, and in which France dealt a blow to its rival superpower, England), or here in America during WWII (and there was no “credible” Link between Germany and Japan either).

Progressive Foreign Policy requires a “view of ethical behavior that centers on empathy and responsibility (for yourself and others needing your help). Many things follow from these central principles: fairness, minimal violence (for example, justice without vengeance), an ethic of care, protection of those needing it, a recognition of interdependence, cooperation for the common good, the building of community, mutual respect and so on…This of course, implies (1) multilateralism, (2) interdependence, and (3) international cooperation.”
Progressives mainly support Multi-lateralism, inter-dependence and co-operation so that the blame for any catastrophe can be safely placed on the group or part of the group, thus providing an “out” that preserves the Moral Purity illusion. You can see this in effect when they blame the United States for the genocide in Darfur or the U.N.s cowardice when they left Iraq.

To further protect their moral purity, Progressives think they have a right to know everything the government is doing. For example, the Rockridge site asserts : “Trust, Honesty and Open Communication are required of an open government that respects its citizens. Regular press conferences, public hearings, and open deliberations by policymakers allow the people to communicate with their elected officials, and foster trust."

Since there are no caveats to this, it also must follow that Progressives believe that the Government should reveal information that puts our country or troops at risk, in order to foster Trust and Open Communication with Citizens. A good example is demanding an exit plan with dates for Iraq. Al-Qaeda would love a morale booster like a specific date American Troops will leave. Progressives also feel they have a moral obligation to co-operate with Evil by helping our enemies win the Public Opinion war, and want open disclosure of unfortunate events in Gitmo and Abu-Ghraib to assist with that. What else can be expected from people who empathize with the terrorists?

“Cooperation is a hallmark of healthy communities, where everyone in a community works together to meet shared goals. Open communication requires cooperation and trust. In foreign policy, cooperation is expressed in support for the United Nations, diplomacy, and respect for international agreements and treaties. “

Dr. Lakoff seems to be a little unclear about what happens when members of the community don’t share the same goals, but it is clear that Progressives believe the U.S. should put its wealth and military resources under the control of an unaccountable, “multilateral” organization, that may or may not have the best interests of the United States (or even its continued survival) in mind. They also believe that a treaty signed by enough nations becomes “International Law” that must be obeyed by the United States.
Contrastingly, “In foreign policy, a strict father nation would be giving up its sovereignty and its moral authority if it has to ask permission to act in a way it judges to be moral.” (Take back America) The “Strict Father” model “says that you cannot give up sovereignty. The United States, being the best and most powerful country in the World – a moral authority—knows the right thing to do. We should not be asking anybody else” Conservatives believe that the American Principle of Representative Government means that subservience to an unelected government is immoral and a violation of our Natural and inalienable right of self-government. The United States is a Sovereign Country whose leaders are delegated authority by an agreement with the people of the United States called the Constitution, and whose leaders are unable to legitimately give up sovereignty without breaking their compact with the people.

To progressives, “The role of the nation should be to promote cooperation and extend these [progressive] values to the world.” - Rockridge website

“what is needed .. is a new kind of moral foreign policy, one that realizes that America can only be a better America is the world is a better world. America must become a moral leader using fundamental human values: caring and responsibility carried out with strength to respond to the worlds problems”

“Caring and responsibility translate into caring about and acting responsibly for the world’s people; world health, hunger, poverty, and ecology; population control (and the best method, women’s education); and rights for women, children, prisoners, refugees and ethnic minorities”

Progressives believe they should impose their morality and “solutions” on the rest of the world via Foreign Policy, regardless of what the people in those Nations want. This is all the more ironic, since imposing Nurturant Morality on the rest of the world, presupposes those nations can not take care of themselves; they are metaphorical children.

This instead is an idea that Lakoff asserts belongs to the “Strict Father” model :in which Nations attempt to maximize their self-interest. “By the further metaphor that Nations are persons… there are adult nations and child nations, where adulthood is industrialization. The child nations are called developing nations of “underdeveloped states”

In reality, these are terms that refer to the economic conditions in a country, and do not imply Conservatives view them as child nations. To further his assertion Lakoff says that Bush’s use of the words “Permission slip” was “Conservative Framing” because it “puts you back in grammar school or High Schools, where you need a permission slip from an adult to go to the bathroom. You do not need to ask for a permission slip if you are the teacher, if you are the principal, if you’re the person in power, the moral authority. The others should be asking you for permission. That is what the permission slip phrase in the 2004 State of the Union Address was about… What Bush did was evoke the adult-child metaphor for other Nations. He Said, “We’re the Adult””

Only a progressive would take the next step and assume that meant that everyone else is a child. If anything Bush was arguing from the Progressive frame in which anyone not displaying “Nurturant Morality’ is a child, and was therefore required to assert that the United States wasn't one. Conservatives instead believe that the people of other Nations, like other citizens, should be allowed to find their own paths, their own solutions, and therefore support the spread of Democracy and oppose tyrants and despots.
    

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