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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

 
QOTD: Oliver Stone

by digby

I've been reading all day about the President of the United States asserting the unilateral right to kill American citizens on the basis of imminent threat that really isn't imminent. It's still jarring to me that we are even discussing this as if it were a perfectly normal political debate. But we are.

I couldn't help thinking of Oliver Stone's Untold History and his thesis that the American National Security State (and Empire) was created by a mushroom cloud that allowed us to believe that everything is moral when it's done by us: "The Good Guys".

Stone's final narration of the series is well worth reading and contemplating as we think about this:
As we close out this series we must ask ourselves humbly, are we so happy to be number one?  Are we right to try to police this globe?  Have we helped others?  Have we helped ourselves?  Look in the mirror.   Have we perhaps in our self love become the angels of our own despair?  The atomic bomb dropped on Japan was the founding myth of our national security state, and we have as Americans benefited from that.  The bomb allows us to win by any means necessary; which makes us, because we win, right.  And because we are right, we are therefore good.

Under these conditions there is no morality but our own.  And if we hurt or interfere in other nations, the bomb allows us to be forgiven and apparently live without the consequences of our mistakes.  Thus life becomes the law of the jungle and the one with the biggest club feels good because he's right.  That is the law of brutality that governed Earth at it's origins many thousands of years ago.

Six empires have collapsed in the lifetime of a person born before World War II; Britain, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union.  Three more empires earlier in the 20th century; China, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.  By the laws of history, therefore the United States will fall sooner or later.

Alfred McCoy suggests our empire just might win this bet with the gods and through space and cyberspace dominate the globe; at least until the mid-decades of the 21st century.  But if so, we will be hated as a tyrant and no tyranny can last.

As an empire we must ask is it not possible still to retract, grow old and wiser without dispair and violence assetting it?  Could not our empire accept the idea now that there is no need for an exceptional mission blessed by divinity; that to be human is enough.  That to fail is not tragic.  To be human is. 
I think back to Franklin Roosevelt, who though dying in his last cable to Churchill wrote:
 "I would minimize the Soviet problem as much as possible, because these problems in one form or another seem to arise everyday and most of them straighten out."
Calming down the situations that occur, letting things happen without reacting or overreacting; if there was one single place to start, I think it could be with our military.

This way lies in sharing in the needs of other countries.  Sharing technology and trusting a collective will of this planet to survive the coming period.

Let's surrender our exceptionalism and our arrogance.  Let's cut out the talk of a dominant America.  Surrender that word 'dominate'.  Hardliners will object and scream, but theirs is proven not to be the way.  A young woman said to me in the 1970's, "We need to feminize this planet."  I thought it strange then, but now I realize there's nothing wrong with love.  Let us find a way back to respect the law that is the first principle of civilization.  It is the law not of the jungle, but of civilization; when we come together and put aside our differences to preserve certain things that matter.  There is in most all of us a conscience, a higher knowledge of a force that is greater than ourselves, that includes us but is greater than all of us combined.

And for that reason, the history of man is not only one of blood and death, but one also of honor, achievement, uplift memory - and civilization.  The rest, the ugliness of man and the violence and the selfishness will be forgotten.

There is a way forward.  By knowing the past, we can start, step by step - like a baby, reaching for the stars.

I'm afraid we're still crawling. And falling. I agree that it's not impossible. But as we speak  we're debating whether we should torture. And we're standing by as presidents of two parties declare their right to order the extra-judicial killings, the Democrat of of the pair extending it to American citizens. We've got a long way to go.

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