Threats From An Interlinked World


How can we reduce our vulnerability to risks posed by global interconnectedness - from swine flu to financial contagion to terrorist threats? What risks do you see on the horizon?

Posted by David Ignatius and Lauren Keane on May 1, 2009 10:30 AM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (59)

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

If ambition were a negative trait all politicans should have negative labels placed on them. Even I'm not so cynical as to believe this.

As to Obama and Netanyahu why are you waiting? You already know what the outcome will be. It will be the same as all the other outcomes. Absolutely nothing of consequence will happen. It's like a broken record over there. No matter how many meetings take place and betweend whom nothing substantial towards peace ever takes place.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Hillary planned on taking the White House well before Bill finished his term in office. Her ambition was well known. She ran and won the Senate seat - on the coattails of Bill, and, of course, worked the sympathy card to gain the seat. She believed that she was entitled to the Presidency, and it took a long time to realize she wouldn't be the nominee. It was a bitter loss.

She will probably do fine as the Secretary of State. She might have made a better President than Obama - I don't know. It will be awhile before anyone can pass serious judgment on Obama, although we may judge, or speculate on individual policies.

I await with great interest his meeting with Netanyahu....

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

The jokes keep on flying.

I have never understood the Hillary bashing. Was it because she stayed with Bill after the affairs? Was it because she was a strong independent woman?

By all accounts she was a very effective US Senator for NY. The people there loved her. It's still too early to tell how well she'll do as Sec. of State, but early signs are positive.

Just out of curiosity are you cringing or rooting on Darth Vader and all his TV interviews of late?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Heard back from Bill Clinton? By the way, I know he believes in torture - look who he's been married to (self inflicted torture).

blund Author Profile Page :

Zolko,

The US was already in Vietnam by the Gulf of Tonkin incident which took place between August 2-4th 1964. This fabricated incident was used by Johnson to escalate the conflict. Maybe a more apt analogy would be the sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor to start the Spanish/American war.

We concur the dropping of 2 atomic bombs on Japan to end WWII unnecessary and to this day makes America the only country to drop nukes on anyone in anger. It is not a model for nuclear restraint. (I know all the arguments for ending the war, saving American lives and probably saving Japanese lives as silly as that sounds, but I still don't feel the use of nuclear weapons was justified as it has left a permanant historical record the US is either trying to justify or live down)

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

"Of course, he was a Democrat, so who knows?"

You're on a roll! The jokes just keep coming.

I know of no compelling evidence to suggest FDR knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor beforehand. It is true the 7th Fleet pulled out all of it's high value assets within the week before the attack (Carriers, new cruisers, destroyers, etc.) which left the aging part of the fleet still in Pearl. However, at worst, this can only lead someone to conclude there was a probablity of an unspecified Japanese response to our oil and steel embargos. A far cry from sitting back an orchestring the attack so we could declare war.

However, if a republican was in the White House back then they would have continued to sell oil and steel to Japan so Pearl Harbor would have never happened.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Oh, I don't paint the Japanese as victims of WW2: I paint them as victims of the A-bomb that the US dropped on them, and that was unnecessary, and in no way an act of "restraint". Of course, Japan started WW2 like Hitler's Germany (and Mussolini's Italy).

But by december 1941, I suspect the US saw the geopolitical trend, and after the British invasion by Hitler failed and Hitler turning to Russia, they "thought" that the allies would win in the long run and they wanted to be part of the winning team, not only a bystander. But they needed a reason to be in the war since they had no reason to declare war, and they "provoked" the Pearl-Harbour attack. The Bay of Tonkin incident to begin the Vietnam war shows that the US government is no stranger to such tactics.

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

About 15 years ago I went into China via Hong Kong. There was a group of 6 of us. One of the members of that group was a hotel owner in Tokoyo. The five of us who were either American or European sailed through the border and were treated well in China. The Japanese man was treated with utter disdain at the border and throughout our stay in China. The Chinese have not forgotten what the Japanese did to them in WWII and they haven't forgiven them.

Considering the scope of Japanese atrocities between 1935-1945 equalled, and probably exceeded, the atrocities committed by the Nazis it's a shame only 5500 Japanese were indicted on War Crimes at the end of the war. I understand why MacArthur engineered amnesty for the Japanese royal family, but I don't agree with it. Hirohito and several other royal family members engineered and/or participated in many of these atrocities including the Rape of Nanking.

The more you read about the equal opportunity butchery committed by the Japanese between 35-45' the less sympathetic one is towards them during this time span. They were just as likely to starve, torture, behead, stab, eat or shoot American POW's as they were to do the same things to Koreans, Chinese, Phillipino's, etc. (Yes, I did say eat. There is considerable evidence and eye witness accounts as food shortages took place Japanese guards would select prisoners to butcher alive for dinner)

I have heard the arguments before about how the US really started the war with the Japanese. I'm sorry, but in absence of the US sending a fleet off the shores of Japan for a Sunday morning raid against Tokoyo to start the conflict I find these arguments weak and US bashing dribble. We did not attack Japan. We might have refused to sell them any more oil or steel to continue their expansion and massacres in Asia, but we didn't attack them.

Over the years I have been to Japan on numerous occasions. It's interesting to try and reconcile how they are today with what they did in my parents life time. The difference is night and day. They still need to issue formal apologies to much of Eastern Asia for what they did leading up to WWII and during the war itself. So far, their attempts at aplogies and taking responsibility for their actions has been inadequate.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Zolko

I looked for a link to the “conspiracy” theories of FDR and came up with an interesting book - which you may have had in mind ("Pearl Harbor: Mother of All Conspiracies" by Mark Emerson). The book had some good reviews. I’m not really big into conspiracy theories such as 911, or the assassination of JFK - but that doesn’t exclude their possibility.

The Japanese probably treated the oil embargo as an act of war, but its just inconceivable that an American President would purposely sacrifice the killing of so many Americans (and war ships) - JUST to enter the war. I mean, no profit motive? No personal gain? At least in the 911 conspiracy, we get Iraq’s oil, and Cheney profits from Halliburton. It also seems like a really lousy way to enter a war - minus half your fleet.

Of course, he was a Democrat, so who knows?

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Blund from Daniel. I thought that was very fair what you just said to Zolko about the Japanese in the bad old days. I also find it amazing what the Japanese have become. I have thought so since living in Japan as a kid. Actually I never grasped WW2 then, but as I grew older and superimposed new thoughts on the experience I had in Japan I became quite impressed--and that has impression has never left me.

blund Author Profile Page :

Zolko,

I'm no fan of dropping nukes no matter what. I am on record as stating I didn't agree with Truman's decision to let the militray use them to end the war with Japan. That being said portraying the Japanese as a victim in WWII is really hard to do and doesn't jive well with history.

In many respects ElQuaeda looks like a bunch of choir boys compared to what the Japanese did in Korea and China in WWII. You can rightfully state they were beat by the time we dropped our nukes, but they were still a long way from surrenduring. As I said I've never agreed with the decisions to drop them and felt conventional means, which have taken longer, would have sufficed. However, after the atrocities they committed during the war it's hard to paint them as anything other then barbaric in their own right for what they did.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Tom, I see, you need some update on history ?

"As the defeat of Germany approached in the Spring of 1945, Szilard began to question the need to use the atomic bomb. (...) Using another letter from Einstein, Szilard scheduled a meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt for May 8. (...) But on April 12, President Roosevelt died. An attempt to meet with President Truman led instead to a May 28, 1945 meeting with James Byrnes, who would soon become Sec. of State. But Byrnes thoroughly disagreed with Szilard's views."

http://hypertextbook.com/eworld/einstein.shtml
http://www.doug-long.com/szilard.htm

About Pearl-Harbour, the Japs send a normal declaration of war but the US ambassy "failed" to decrypt it in time. You're going to find links to that ?

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I have to admit I was chuckling when I wrote it.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

I guess I'm getting more cynical in my old age.

"..I'm sorry but you couldn't fill a thimble today with the collective moral authority of your party. .."

My wife cracked up when I showed it to her....

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I'm impressed. I thought satire was limited to the democrats. A republican with a sense of humor. Are you sure you're a republican?

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

Globalization (the bringing up of the lesser players in the world to the level of today's economic powerhouses) even possible with today's technology?

What I am questioning is statements I have heard by a significant number of scientists, mathematicians, that the earth cannot sustain all peoples consuming as much as the U.S. and other advanced powers do now--or in other words the numbers do not add up to being able to modernize the entire human population of earth with today's technology.

If this is the case, it becomes meaningless to question the vulnerabilities of global interconnectedness--because the world cannot become interconnected and help everyone in the first place. If scientists and mathematicians (who question the possibility of all nations rising up to the consuming capacity of the more advanced nations) are right, then what we call our global economic crisis today will not only not get any better any time soon, it will gradually worsen as it becomes truly apparent to the great powers that the earth cannot sustain everyone moving toward modernity (the great numbers of earth moving toward modernity).

Either the numbers of people on earth must be drastically reduced (by reducing numbers of children born?) or technology advanced to sustain swelling populations headed toward modernity or quite nasty methods will arise to solve the problem beginning with the greater powers striving to prevent the worldwide inflation born of too many trying to exist on too little. The greater powers will correct the balance by cutting off a great many people from reaching modernity, thus arriving at the equation of earth being able to sustain these lesser numbers.

So the question really is how accurate today's scientists and mathematicians are, and if they are accurate what to do about it.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Alan,

You have pointed out the main culprit for mayhem in Pakistan & Afghanistan. The reactionary extremist behavior prevalent in this area, in its essence is a product of the filth permeating the misery that they are condemned to suffer throughout their lives. The common sense sanity of an ancient culture is buried under this filth, but with a push for prosperity it can be brought back to fruition.

Not too long ago, before the information age, when the world was not so “interconnected” and a country’s business was still its own, these people were living a relatively serine life as farmers and herdsmen. Skirmishes were part of their lives as much as weddings and harvest celebrations were. Their lives were not overwhelmed by wars, and hatred had not consumed them.

Age of “interconnectedness” first brought them the Russians. They fought them gallantly, but without knowing what trap they were walking into, they accepted Saudi Arabian fighters, American war machine and Pakistani sanctuary and direction. They won the war against the Russians but lost the peace to the foreign influence that permanently disturbed their cultural checks and balances.

At this time what is lost is unfortunately water under the bridge. That makes Alan’s prescription the only way forward. The foreign powers that so messed up the natural development of the area should help in revitalizing the infrastructure needed to bring back an agricultural economy to the region. Only a chance for relative prosperity can scrub off the filth of hatred and extremism from the surface of this culture.

The Af/Pack experiment is a work in progress in “global interconnectedness”. The final result should prove that our world is turning into a village in which anybody’s business is everybody’s concern. Our closeness proves that we can not achieve serenity in any part of our world if we can not provide a minimum standard of prosperity for all.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

More on reducing our vulnerability....

1. By acting responsibly, internationally, more specifically in developing nations, rather than as pointed out and criticized by Alejandro Nadal in "Influenza A/H1N1: la punta del iceberg". *

2. By having a President who will not simply pursue GWB on matters of foreign policies, as argued by Professor Noam Chomsky in "La política exterior de Obama será como la segunda Administración Bush: Entrevista a Noam Chomsky, intelectual y politólogo estadounidense." **

Readers who do not know Spanish can go a long way by simply using translate.google.com. That is the price to pay given our media are so selective (a euphemism) in what they present to the American public.

*

http://www.telesurtv.net/noticias/opinion/899/influenza-a/h1n1-la-punta-del-iceberg/


**

http://www.telesurtv.net/noticias/contexto/902/la-politica-exterior-de-obama-sera-como-la-segunda-administracion-bush/


alan_howe Author Profile Page :

It is essential that the anti-dotes travel the same routes and reside among the same vectors that carry the contagions you describe. Health care perhaps lags behind more than any of the anti-dotes required. Maybe money means more than human lives to too many. Too bad, because health care is one of the anti-dotes to terrorism as much as it is to epidemics. That is, pressing forward with roads, schools, electricity, communications, and hospitals and clinics into (for example) Balukistan and the Pashtun areas from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and maybe Iran combats the spread of al Qaeda and Taliban nihilism and inoculates the populations. The Obama administration seems to understand this better than its predecessor, but they labor alone and with limited effectiveness if we cannot bring along the rest of the country and the international community. We receive and pass along the wrong impressions too often.

I recently argued about the nature of Pakistan with one who thought there was no hope of stopping the Taliban. He took the wrong lesson from reports of Taliban closing girls' schools and assaulting and murdering teachers and young girls. The Taliban actions are horrific and lead to pessimism if one fails to note that the region HAS those schools and those girls and those families who want education for all their children. We need to nurture and support that culture. That task is far easier than trying to create a culture opposed to the Taliban out of whole cloth. Our advantages over the Taliban and al Qaeda are not limited to Predator drones and the like. They include two democratic governments (with admitted failings and limitations) and a culture opposed to insurgents' aims. We need to press our advantage.

boblesch Author Profile Page :

we hear lots of discussion about isolated ecosystems and biosystems. as we grow more economically, informationally and transportationally connected it is becoming more and more obvious that we are also connected spiritually, psychically and and biologically. we are clearly not isolated from each other as much as some of us would like to think we still are. fears, prejudices and diseases of all kinds are spreading around the global community at rates never seen before because barriers of all types is becoming a thing of the past. we have to start acting as though our individual survival depends on the survival of the entire global community. it has taken many centuries to get to this place of understanding, but we have arrived. now we need to start acting and thinking like it, because our very survival depends on it.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Zolko

You must be one of those new historians like they have in Israel. They seek the truth by reviewing historical documents. Benny Morris comes to mind.

Clearly, you’ve done your research. Its come out recently that the Japanese were just a peace loving people - more than content to stay put on their little island paradise, that is, until the US maliciously emplaced an oil embargo on the little country. Why you ask? Baseball.

The embargo forced the Japanese to leave their little island paradise and go find their oil. They looked in Korea, China, the Philippines - and almost all the way to Australia. To no avail. However, they made many friends along the way. Many Korean girls still talk about those Japanese men!

Finally, in desperation, the Japanese offered to play the US in a seven game World Series (in baseball) to end the oil embargo. The US declined fearing that the Japanese skill in baseball now exceeded the (Latin) Americans. This forced the reluctant Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor. The Commissioner of major league baseball has now been charged with conspiracy.

I also see that you uncovered the truth regarding the US use of nuclear weapons. The highest percentage of Japanese major league baseball players were born in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The Commissioner has denied that baseball played a role in the selection of the two cities.

Thank goodness for new historians like yourself.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

So far I'll I've received back from Clinton's office is a notification that Bill will be on the Rachel Ray show and to watch it. Maybe they'll talk about torture while the cook burgers.

Zolko Author Profile Page :

Daniel:

"the U.S. bombed only Japan, ended WW2 and then went home."

No, the US didn't go home, they're still occupying Japan militarily. That your IQ should be 134 only shows that IQ tests are meaningless.

For your information, the US provoked Japan for them to attack Pearl-Harbour, them bombed them flat with conventional bombs, and when the war was close to be over, they dropped a nuclear bomb because they wanted to see what it does (and probably to show the rest of the world who the new boss was), even though Einstein and the other european scientist who worked for the US bomb (because they were afraid Hitler would have it first) begged the US government not to use it.

Bogdan_in_Chicago Author Profile Page :

Breaking them down psychologically to drive them to altruism… To reduce risk create an all encompassing hierarchy and define rules for competitive leapfrogging. Provide a point of reference with zealous poverty seekers. Redefine technology as an unattainable moving target with hope. Rejuvenate.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

Whenever the subject of torture comes up I inevitably begin thinking of an essay I wrote long ago.

I began wondering what would occur if for all our technology and progress toward humanity rather than barbarity our grasp of technology were to falter, if technology would continue to become more "sophisticated" and be able to not only kill greater numbers of people than in the past, but to become more and more available (proliferation).

It struck me that in all probability that precisely because developments toward getting people to become more altruistic, humane, would lag behind such horrifying technological advancements that society would become more and more a process of constraining individuals, the business cubicle philosophy strengthened, and that eventually experiments in breaking people would more and more take place, and we would scientifically determine the efficacy of torture and that we would continue pursuing the project with the aid of technology (in an ironic countermovement against technology which potentially kills many people) until torture were to become truly efficacious, and then we would have truly horrifyingly technology on one side increasing such things as WMD and on the other side technology becoming more efficacious in driving people toward altruism even if it means breaking them down psychologically...

Need I say more? A true dystopia.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Blund from Daniel. I thought your first paragraph was quite good. You definitely made me think a bit further. It seems not only that your points were good but that I was a bit silly saying the U.S. could have conquered the world for the simple reason that no one has managed to do so ever, so it seems kind of rash to say that one knows not only the time that it is possible but how it can be accomplished. We simply have no record to go by for such a thing. But probably if such a thing were managed by some nation or group of nations or whatever in the future that these people would be capable of the definitive edition of the art of war (following Vegetius, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, etc.).

Your third paragraph was a bit more troubling--about me being a racist, etc.--but I might have to concede to you on that one too.--But not for the reason you might think. You say my statements are full of hatred, but the problem could very well be worse than that. The problem could be that I am not filled with hatred. What I mean is it seems skinheads, etc. are so full of hatred and obsessed that they cannot really even give a coherent account of their obsession--their hatred ruins flexibility of mind by which they could make their positions stronger. I seem to be the opposite, not full of hatred, but because I am not full of hatred I can reason this way and that and touching on the obsession of skinheads fortify their position literally beyond their imaginations.

So I guess I had better be careful no matter how you look at it. I have no real defense of myself other than to say my mind wanders here, wanders there, and I seem so intent on the intellectual chase that I never bother to think what effect on others I might be having...

But maybe I am not entirely bad. I will post next a reflection on torture (since this has been a current and ongoing subject) which is actually a brief of a piece I wrote long ago. But even here my disturbing qualities come out, something of an acute and ever present pessimism that really finds the worst in virtually everything I think about.

Actually the last sentence is not entirely the case. I will share with you now a reflection on morality I am quite happy with, for it seems (to the best of my knowledge this is original) to rank with such notions as the golden rule, and morality being moderation between extremes etc.

I was reflecting that it seems selfishness is in all actions. Some actions are obviously selfish, but there is selfishness in what most people think is altruism. Most people think they are being altruistic in helping people, but typically the people they help are people like themselves, people they like or people who cause no great offense. Therefore their altruism is questionable. It struck me that a true altruistic action would be to do something good for someone one despises, because in that action it seems one is not being helped at all. But even in that altruistic extreme selfishness exists because for all its selflessness one is still striving for this goal--one is being serviced even if only striving for this goal.

But then I reasoned that the opposite is also true. As one moves down the scale from the extreme of altruism which is doing something good for someone one hates one arrives at the middle position of doing good for people one likes or people who cause no great offense. And then as one goes further one arrives at truly selfish actions. But even in these most selfish actions a residue of altruism remains because one cannot help helping someone, even if that person is only oneself.

So we have something of a yin/yang, in the extreme of altruism a residue of selfishness and in the extreme of selfishness a residue of altruism. The goal obviously seems to be to know when one should move this way or that up and down the scale.

So there it is, a happy thought. And I need a happy thought at the moment. I just finished reading E.O. Wilson's book "Consilience" and it ended by talking about how man is destroying the environment, that the whole world might become like the conflict in Rwanda between Tutsis and Hutus--which is to say, people have been painting the conflict in Rwanda as if it is an ethnic conflict but Wilson points out that before the conflict the population exploded and the citizens of Rwanda found themselves with very little resources of food and drink and just went at each other's throats. Pretty gloomy. According to Wilson nations had better start working together...Anyway, I will post the piece on torture I wrote--not the original essay, just the brief of it which will be enough.

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

If you're trying to make a case the US showed great restraint in not nuking the world into submission at the end of WWII save your breath. It's an argument that first would have required we had enough nukes to do it, which we didn't. It also requires we had enough people to control the planet, which we didn't. It glaringly fails to take into account what would have been left of the world to inhabit if we did. I know you may think they are just minor points, but they are really important points that even make the consideration of nuking the world into submission a silly argument.

My statement originally was and it still stands that the US is the only country to have ever fired off a nuke in anger and we did it twice. That's just an historical fact. It's not something that can be argued with unless you are aware of another country that has done it that nobody else knows about.

PS: I didn't call you a pig. I might of thought it, but I refrained from using that word. There is obviously a difference between Freudian psychoanalysis and Skinner's Behavioral approach. Freud wants to know why. Skinner only cares that the behavior stops. I feel the same way Skinner would towards you. I've given up trying to figure out why you are a racist. I just want the behavior to stop. It's offensive. Even if you can't see how offensive it is, trust me it's really offensive. If you feel the need to post cultural and genetic supremacy you should save it for skinhead.dumb where it will be welcomed.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To all postglobal readers. Here I will post my response to a statement by Blund, extreme liberal, in order to make an attempt to differentiate myself from him and undercut all his cheap accusations toward me, such as calling me a "racist pig"; "Hitler on bad drugs"; "lacking reading comprehension"; etc. Blund constantly prefers cheap accusations and insults to make up for his inability to reason. He constantly avoids making a genuine, logical response to problems. He is no better than those Republican fools he so despises such as Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter.

Now the statement by Blund I will quite logically and correctly critique--as I attempt to do on any problem--is his statement that the U.S. of all nuclear powers has shown the least restraint with nuclear weapons for having bombed Japan in 1945.

First the long view. It is a stone cold fact that in 1945 when the U.S. acquired the bomb that for the first time in all human history a nation, people, ethnic group--whatever--really had it in its power to realize the dream of conquerors of previous millenia, namely the dream of getting into one's possession the entire globe. Prior to the U.S. acquiring the bomb all peoples for all their attempts to conquer the globe failed. Not one succeeded--not Alexander; not Rome; not Genghis Khan; not Napoleon; etc. Only the U.S. had this very real possibility. And not only did the U.S. not take it, the U.S. bombed only Japan, ended WW2 and then went home. Furthermore, that window of opportunity was open only for a brief period. Now it is closed--and in all probability forever.

Second, we move in for a closer view. It is a stone cold fact that when the U.S. acquired the bomb the world was a very dangerous place--in fact begging to be conquered, hopefully by the more fair power. We had England and France still with pretensions of empire and glory. We had fascist Franco in Spain. We had Hitler. We had Mussolini. We had Stalin. We had Mao. We had tensions in the Indian subcontinent. We had maurading Japanese. And of course we had all those petty dictatorships and theocracies from South America to Africa to the Middle East. When all this is considered, when we try to imagine if any of those powers with the possible exception of England and France had acquired the bomb first, we can only marvel at the U.S.'s restraint with nuclear weapons.

Now to move in for an even closer view, to examine directly the situation the U.S. was in with Japan which led to the use of the bomb. It is a stone cold fact that prior to the use of the bomb on Japan that the U.S. and Japan were pretty much in a war which took place on islands between the U.S. and Japan, with the extremes being Hawaii and the Japanese islands. When we consider that it was a battle from island to island and that the Japanese never gave an inch without great sacrifice of American blood, we can only be grateful for the bomb preventing the need to have that last island conflict which would have taken place on the Japanese islands themselves. Just try imagining an invasion of Honshu, all the brutal battles from doorstep to doorstep. Is there any American who will not say in his heart "thank God for the bomb"?

Finally we have the post 1945 view, what occurred after the U.S. used the bomb, concluded WW2 and went home. Obviously what occurred is that other powers raced to acquire the bomb. Did those other powers ever use the bomb? The answer is obviously no. Have those other powers not used the bomb because they are more restrained than the U.S. on such matters? We cannot know that because the concept of mutually assured destruction was put into place (which should be self-explanatory) and if any of those other powers had used the bomb they would in all likelihood have had it used on them in return. But in all probability when we consider the powers--nations such as Russia, China--we can conclude that it was certainly a good thing the U.S. acquired the bomb first because the restraint of such nations as mentioned cannot be counted on. So, the grand conclusion, the verdict: the U.S. acted properly with the bomb in 1945 and the case of modern liberals falls flat on its face unless they can supply different evidence and a better argument--or somehow provide a better argument with the evidence in hand (which would be even more difficult than the former procedure).

This should be enough to demonstrate the difference between me and a man such as Blund. I provide evidence and try to proceed as logically and clearly as possible. People such as Blund just accuse and insult and try to shut down the argument in the lowest manner possible. I rest my case.

Bogdan_in_Chicago Author Profile Page :

The global interconnectedness has compelled us to act like a family with emotional elements of togetherness, hatred, love, despair, happiness, illness, hope, jealousy and competitiveness. Without the voices of patriarch and matriarch to act as ballasts families flounder. Without the voices of elder statesmen to act as ballasts the states flounder. Kissinger, Brzezinski and Scowcroft speak to us regularly through Charlie Rose and others. Just listen and wait until it is your turn to be the elder statesmen…

Bogdan

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

Substantiating my last post.

"Killing civilians in Afghanistan not only causes unintended deaths, it creates unintended enemies for U.S. and NATO troops.

Pashtuns, the most common ethnic group in the country, live by a centuries-old tribal code of honour called the Pashtunwali, and one of its central tenets is badal, or revenge. If a member of one's family is killed, the blood of the aggressor or the aggressor's family must be spilled. An unavenged death is the deepest shame a Pashtun can carry, and neither time, compensation nor uneven odds can erase the obligation for payback.

There's a saying that goes: “A Pashtun waited 100 years, then took his revenge. It was quick work.” Pashtun lore is filled with tales of family members devoting their entire lives to seeking retribution for a slain relative and accounts of weak individuals settling scores with much stronger opponents.

In this way, civilian deaths not only create anger among members of the population, they make Afghans duty-bound to take up arms against coalition forces."


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070509.wafghan-side0510/BNStory/International

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

I'm a wagering man. Let's ask Bill Clinton if he would have waterboarded anyone. I don't know if I'll get a response, but I sent the following question to him:

Sir,

I'm in a discussion in the Washington Post's Post Global section. In discussing "enhanced interrogation methods and techniques" it has been put forth that you would have authorized waterboarding under the same circumstances Bush did. The republican (conservative) side believes this and the democrat (liberal) side says no way.

Since only you would know the answer to this question we thought we would go directly to the source. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Hopefully, I'll get a response. I have serious doubts he'll agree with you.

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

Brilliant post, just brilliant. At least I think it must have been because I never understood a single word of it. Have you given any thought to taking your racist rants over to a skin head blog?

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

PG, you asked "How can we reduce our vulnerability to risks posed by global interconnectedness..."

In view of the recent glorious U.S. military interventions in Pakistan, you now ought to ask: "How can we increase our vulnerability?"

The best recipe, it seems to me, is most likely to continue bombing innocent civilians, day after day, killing hundreds of them with impunity, while making conditions on the ground such that there be millions of internal refugees as well.

Alas, it would seem that too much moral authority, too great a moral superiority soon amount to no moral authority at all.

Change we can believe in? Yes we can, and easily, it being nothing but more of the same with an engaging smile, a smooth demeanor, a charming wife and a water dog.

Should that hypocrisy be of the essence of Obamism, our increased vulnerability is already assured.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Two final notes, Bob:

“…If a culture doesn't believe women should have equal rights I believe that is their perogative…”

Check Amnesty International on that one, Bob. That’s a dangerous position to take - not for you, of course - but for women all over the world subject to cultural gender discrimination. Start in relatively civilized China where forced abortion and sterilization are still practiced to a certain degree, and work your way around the world to Africa (and other places) where female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced, and where rape and murder of women are common (honor killings, for example, or the rape law in Afghanistan) .

From Wikipedia:

“…Amnesty International estimates that over 130 million women worldwide have been affected by some form of FGM, with over 2 million procedures being performed every year…”

“…When you pick on Bill Clinton and lump him in with liberals is just misleading. Bill Clinton has never been a liberal in his entire life. If there ever was a centrist it was Clinton no matter what Rush says.)…”

Yes, Clinton was a centrist (center-left) in many aspects, but he also did something that your pseudo liberal friends would never consider. He stopped the murder of Bosnians by the Serbs and may have prevented the potential murder of Muslims in genocide proportions in Kosovo. In affect, he may have been the last American President to intercede in a conflict for humanitarian reasons (not withstanding the conspiracy theories put out by the usual suspects). Yes, liberal Europe stood by until the US took the lead under Clinton.

As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t really spend much time hammering Clinton (and I never have). I am also quite certain he would have waterboarded KSM because he was also pragmatic.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To Blund from Daniel. You replied to my Tibetan Buddhist post saying people turn to such figures as the Dalai Lama rather than other people for moral guidance in times of crisis, etc. and I admit that is true. I also submit most people are wrong in that decision. They do not have the brains to see by which methods they are helped the most in this vail of tears which is our world.

I submit it is utterly perverse to turn to such a figure as the Dalai Lama and in general consider Tibetan monks morally superior to the U.S. After all right from the start we can say that this whole Dalai Lama thing is a hoax, for what evidence exists at all that he is some sort of figure that has been reincarnated lifetime after lifetime? Furthermore you would expect if he truly was such a figure, has gained so much wisdom over all those lifetimes of his, he might be able to invent one those "toys" which you disdainfully call the entire technological apparatus of Western civilization by which so many successful lives have been born, and by which, by the way, you send your ridiculous posts to us.

How can a person be moral and at the same time contend he is some sort of reincarnated figure we all should pay attention to? But I hardly expect you to understand that, for after all, you were the person who said the U.S. was so unrestrained in bombing Hiroshima, never mind that with the bomb the U.S. became the only country ever in human history with a real chance of dominating the globe--a globe by the way which had marauding Japanese, Hitler, fascist Franco in Spain, Mussolini in Italy, killer Stalin in Russia, killer Mao in China, France still with pretensions of glory, England still with pretensions of empire--and never mind all the petty dictatorships from South America to Africa to the Middle East...but of course you Blund would have preferred any of those entities other than the U.S. to have had the bomb first...Try actually thinking before you open your mouth--but that is an impossibility because your brain has been formed by conversation more than anything else, and liberal b.s. conversation at that. I would ask you to tell me the last two books you read, but I would have to read them and quiz you on them and you would fail miserably because I suspect you would probably lie about your reading...

As for all your charges of racism, I can think of a very clear example of how nonsensical all race relations are in the U.S., an example which when pointed out any third grader can see but which apparently daily escapes college professors minds.
What I mean is this. In the time of slavery in the U.S. the concept of the "one drop rule" came into effect, which of course was the rule that if a person had even a drop of black blood he was considered black. This rule most probably came into effect because otherwise there would have been great confusion considering some people purely black, others partially so, etc.

So essentially in the time of slavery you were condemned even if only a tiny bit black. Well you would have thought that with the end of slavery such a concept would have been tossed out and no strict division (which of course made no sense) would have been made between black and white. But no such thing. Now in modern times what we have is the one drop rule not condemning anyone with black blood but identifying a person as black, as being representative of the black race, when anyone can obviously see that a person who is half black or less black than that cannot sensibly be considered black and representative of the black race.

In other words, if you were to go into a third grade classroom and tell the students let "A" be black, "B" be white, and "AB" be half black and half white and then give them a multiple choice quiz asking which Obama is, you would find choice "AB" made--which of course would not be the choice of so many college professors, no, they would say "A".

Anyone with any honesty can see you cannot consider Obama black or Tiger Woods black or Bob Marley (he had a white father) black, let alone a representative of the black race. Or if you want to play that game, anyone can say no, two of them are white and the other Thai (Tiger Woods). If you really want to compare black with white or any other race you do exactly that--compare black with white. Not sneak under the black flag anyone with the tiniest smidgen of black...

So you can see that if no one can be honest with what obviously can be explained to any third grader we can hardly be honest at all with more complex things about race. But the time will come for honesty. Biology is racing forward. Recently there was an article in Newsweek reported by Sharon Begley, science writer, about a significant number of scientists protesting science examining such things as race and sex and intelligence. Begley of all things said the science should go ahead to prove all the "junk" science (that which would be call racist, sexist) wrong. She seems not to have understood exactly why the scientists were protesting--really not thought of it at all. She seems not to have seen that although the scientists did not say so, there can really be only one reason why they protested: that they feared in there hearts what the results might be.

So rather than calling me racist, time would be better spent trying to discover what to do if--and I believe the correct word is not "if" but "when"--science does come up with troubling findings on this problem. But it seems people would rather have their head in the sand and just hope it all goes away or have extreme confidence or something that the findings of science will be favorable to their views.

I say one should not count on anything. One should always prepare for the worst. Consider those last two sentences and try to reconcile that with my supposedly being a racist.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

You are just dead wrong. I have never advocated human rights violations in the name of peace. Also, I am on record (like a broken record) extolling the virtues of the US. The only difference is I took my head out of the sand and take responsibility for the actions my country has taken in the past and to some degree is currently taking. If you want dismiss, sweep under the rug or ignore our history be my guest. At the same time if want to believe you have moral superiority because Rish Limpbaugh tells you that's the case I've got a piece of real estate that spans the East River in NY I'd love to sell you.

Here's the problem with your position. You don't have one. All you have are the same old lame attacks republicans levy against democrats. Democrats all hate America, they're all immoral and everything bad that happens is their fault. It's the same old theme of not taking responsibility. You won't even take any responsibility for our history. It's like a genetic (I had to get this one in for Daniel) malfunction in a republicans brain when it comes to responsibiltiy.

Bush screws up the economy, but it's Clinton's fault. Bush expected the Iraqi's to welcome us with open arms and it's Clinton's fault they didn't. Clinton caused Katrina single handed.

Tom, I'm sorry but you couldn't fill a thimble today with the collective moral authority of your party. You're sitting around defending torture, killing people in just about every way imaginable and you want the rest of us to believe that's moral? Why is this Tom? Is it impossible for a republican to believe they are immoral or ammoral when we all know there is a ton of evidence to support this position?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Just like all moral liberals, you emphasize the bad over the good that this country has done. That’s why liberals accept the apology tour with such ease. What could be better than degrading your own country to the world for the past misdeeds we committed? Sure this country has done a significant amount of bad things, but the good far outweighs the bad. After WWII, our role in the world changed. We prevented and deterred wars, Bob. That’s why your statement that all other countries showed more restraint on the use of nuclear weapons was so ludicrous at its core.

Yes, I’ll continue to highlight the fact the torture is not limited to the Bush administration simply because your hatred of Bush puts you in denial of reality. You simply want to believe that Bush would be the only President capable of torturing to prevent the loss of more American lives, but you are wrong. Only a complete idiot would not waterboard someone if hundreds or thousands of lives were at stake.

Even the most moral liberal I know said he would approve torture to prevent a nuclear holocaust. We all believe in torture, Bob. We just have different criteria. We are all immoral. I thank God that Bush tortured KSM if it prevented more American deaths (and I’m not religious).

You also notice that Obama is now weighing trying Guantanamo prisoners by military commissions. He also supports NO habeas corpus for Afghan prisoners. Reality is setting in for the moral one.

Finally, Bob. You are not a moral person if you accept human and civil rights abuses in the name of peace (whether from cultural or government abuse). We all just need to get along. Liberalism is - at its core - the fight for the rights of the minorities and the weak. That’s who suffer under those circumstances. You cannot talk to me about any moral superiority while you support human suffering in the name of culture and/or government.

Sorry.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Oh, contrare my republican friend. That you could even make the statement, "Torturing (waterboarding) those thirty terrorist is not an issue with me," goes directly to the heart of my point. Torturing people is not a moral activity no matter how you slice and dice it. It may be a political activity, but moral it is not. Hence, you are left in a position when you try to justify torture of being less then moral. The killing of prisoners in the US (executions) is not a moral activity either. Killing another human being who is of no threat to anyone since they are locked down isn't a moral activity. Again, it's political. Slavery falls into this same classification. The genocide committed against the American Indian falls here to. The Mexican-American War belongs in this category. Iraq can join the list along with Vietnam. We have a long history of political acts that have been less then moral and have tried to cloak them with names like, "manifest destiny," "weapons of mass destruction," "the domino theory," etc. etc. etc. We have done this in many respects to add moral legitimacy to our actions.

I'm not ranting about how bad the US is. I'm saying look at our history. Look at it. Look very closely at it. It's still possible to love this country and realize we don't reside on a moral summit. Very few countries do. Political concerns have a long history of over riding many moral concerns. The question of torture is no different. The past White House made a political decision to torture people under the guise that it might save lives. This was a very low standard to use to break a long standing ban on torture. That you agree with this decision automatically makes you less moral. You might feel good about the decision as you think it was worth while. You might even feel the ends justified the means, but a moral decision it was not.

You need to stop blaming everything in the world on Clinton for what George Bush did. I am sorry it's all you have to work with, but it's getting beyond old. You are beginning to sound more and more like Rush Limpbaugh. It seems like everytime you can't justify a republican position you blame it on Clinton. The shot at Pelosi was very misleading. True, Pelosi was briefed on interrogations. The only problem is she was not briefed on the extent and depth of them. The administration never told Pelosi about waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions and other degragations. In essence they gave her the sanitized version and have maintained they briefed both her and Reid on what they were doing. While that was true they omitted so much of what they were doing that the briefing was a joke.

Moral authority? Which side aspires to have it? This one isn't even a close call. Between conservatives and liberals, liberals win hands down. (Please note I did not use the words republican or democrat, I specifically used the terms liberal vs. conservative and there is a difference) On the issue of torture conservatives supported it thus making them less moral. On the issue of invading a country with no clear and convincing evidence it was needed conservatives supported it thus making them less moral. On the issue of the death penalty conservatives support it thus making them less moral. On the issue of abortion conservatives oppose it thus making them more moral. Liberals on the other hand opposed torture (more moral), opposed the invasion of Iraq (more moral), oppose the death penalty (more moral) and support a womans right to choose an abortion (less moral).
Three out of four major issues on morality go to the liberals. (Now, I know you are going to come back with all those democrats that supported and/or voted for some these issues, but don't waste your time. I specifically said liberals vs. conservatives to start this off with and not democrats and republicans. Not all democrats are liberals no matter how much republicans like to label them. When you pick on Bill Clinton and lump him in with liberals is just misleading. Bill Clinton has never been a liberal in his entire life. If there ever was a centrist it was Clinton no matter what Rush says.)

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Nice anti US rant, Bob. Not too much to say about your post. I’ve seen it 100 times before, however, you made one really interesting statement.

“…If you're really interested in moral superiority then turn liberal…”

Yes, at one time, you probably could make a case that liberals (and liberalism) were probably morally superior. Liberals were at the forefront of the civil and human rights movement. Most liberals recognized that human and civil rights blossom under a democratic government. They were right, Bob, but not anymore. Not before the far left hijacked liberalism. The left is so full of hate that its remarkable you can’t or don’t want to see it. Anti Americanism, anti Israel, anti Christian bigotry (which I have posted) - and yes, anti Semitism. Heck, even McCain became pond scum when he challenged for the Presidency. The hatred of Bush went beyond any disagreement in politics.

Today’s liberals (who are nothing but an embarrassment to liberals in the 60’s) hold human and civil rights way down the list in importance - just so an “old liberal” ( actually, a whole bunch of leftist) can have a peaceful coexistence (in theory) with the brutal dictators, and cultures that continue their tradition of genital mutilation, and other abuses in the name of cultural relativism. Appeasement will not get us to peace, Bob.

Sorry, Bob. Liberalism no longer is morally superior. Far from it.

Thanks for your post

PS

“…Apparently, you missed the irony of the US torturing people on the Island of Cuba at Gitmo…”

Don’t forget Clinton rendering prisoners to Egypt in the 90‘s for some real torture, and Pelosi’s briefings on waterboarding which didn‘t seem to cause any objection at the time (2002?). Torturing (waterboarding) those thirty terrorist is not an issue with me, and it wouldn’t be an issue with most Americans - independents, Democrat and Republicans who cared about American lives after 911 - including (probably) Gore who came so close to winning in 2000.

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

One of these days reading comphrehension might accidentally happen to you, but I doubt it. I know this is an oxymoron, but think about it. (It was the you and thinking that comprised the oxymoron). When someone in this country and pretty much around the world has a moral dilemna where do they turn? To politicans? I think not. They turn to their priest, minister or other religious figure. They chose the counsel of people who are seen as moral (whether they are or not is a different discussion). They don't turn to who makes the most money or invents bigger toys. Quite the contrary. Most ministers and priests are functionally working poor and rarely invent anything. Yet these are the same people most people turn to for moral guidance. And yes Daniel, the Dalai Lama is viewed as a highly moral and spirtual person. In this particular case he isn't even broke. The Dalai Lama has lots of money (wealth).

Try taking the time to think about something you read before you go off on another supremicist tangent babbling like Hitler on bad drugs.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

I never want to hear anyone ever again trying to tell me about the moral or any other type of authority of the Tibetan monks over any other people.

Here we have a people saying their Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of, etc. etc. when anyone can see he is nothing more than a nice old man. We have this nice old man played up into being some sort of divine figure to whom we should subject ourselves. What a hoax.

And then we have these Tibetans considered so superior and helpful when they have no scientific or artistic accomplishments to their name. Their help consists of meditating for us--and even that cannot be counted on because they are so passive they cannot exist without being helped (Dalai Lama fleeing from his homeland).

Essentially we have a people with no accomplishments and no will to defend themselves considered morally superior when anyone can see that this moral superiority is exactly negation in virtually all action. How can a person be morally superior when all he does essentially is smile at us and say he is concerned about us? Exactly what help is that? Try at least getting a job. Certainly such people have not done even remotely the accomplishments Americans have done to help people in the world.

No navel gazing and pretended moral superiority for Americans. Americans demand clear accomplishments. Americans constantly strive to discover cures for this and that, constantly strive to solve the puzzle of economics for everyone. And certainly the Dalai Lama is not above using a good old American telephone (and it would be interesting to see what other technological advancements Tibetan monks have taken to themselves without giving anything substantial in return).

What a hoax these people play on us. And some Americans are so naive as to say they might not have any money but they are morally superior. What next? The bum on the sidewalk our moral exemplar? What phoniness. Certainly we can question the worth of an American who is taken in by all that. In fact a study should be made examining the lifestyles and contributions of Americans taken in by the hoax of Tibetan Buddhism to see what truly such Americans have accomplished.

I suspect that when the results come in you will find not much accomplishment at all but rather a lifestyle which is at odds with all we consider the scientific revolution, which of course is the foundation of modernity and has pulled more people from despair than any other movement whether political, artistic or religious in the entire world.

Tibetan monks...Bah! Give me logic, clarity, proportion, brevity, honesty, courage, elegant simplicity any day of the week. Or to put it all into pure Western terms, Vermeer, Leonardo, Cezanne over all the mystification and water lilies of a Monet. Only Corot do I celebrate as a nebulous painter of quality. Typically one should prefer the "clear road painters" over the mystifying. Add Velazquez to the list. Oh, wait, I forgot El Greco as a mystifier of quality.

Mystification and poetry does have its uses...But then again the mystification of a Corot or El Greco is superior to Tibetan monk mystification...At least it is art....

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

The U.S. has no moral authority? Tibetan monks are superior when it comes to morality than Americans? Please tell us, what exactly have Tibetan monks done for the world? What accomplishments? What cures for disease? What inventions? You mean sitting about gazing at one's navel demonstrates superior moral authority? You mean all the meditations on compassion by Tibetan monks are radiating outward and helping people more than a good, honest invention? What nonsense.

Now, a better case can be made by saying a Swede or citizen of Switzerland has more moral authority than an American, but even here things are questionable. The neutrality of Switzerland for centuries has led to what? Swiss Army knives, watches, private bank accounts? What more in arts and sciences which helps people? As for the Swedes, some moral superiority they have being far removed from potential threats to their nation. Heck, it might be nice for Europe in general to have the U.S. always there looking over their shoulder--as in the cold war.

But maybe I just see things differently.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

To all people offended about my post concerning genetics and cultures, etc., this is what I have to say: First of all my I.Q. is 134. That is not super high but it is within the range of the top 2% of the population. Second of all, I read deeply--very deeply. For example, the last non-fiction book I read was a book on Plato's symposium by Leo Strauss. The non-fiction book I am reading now is Consilience by E.O. Wilson. I am always reading two books at once--one fiction the other non-fiction. And I do not read rubbish. I seek out the best books on all subjects.

Next it should be known that I play no games. When I write I do not try to cow the reader with the use of big words or a barrage of sources or sprinkle my sentences with foreign words, etc. I strive at all times to write clearly, plainly, so that the reader can easily follow along and determine where exactly my logic has gone wrong.

Therefore I would fully expect on a topic as controversial as this that the reader in turn try not to shut down the conversation and cow me by calling me a racist pig, etc. If the reader has a problem with what I write then explain clearly and logically where I have gone wrong.

If the reader wants more to criticize on this controversial topic I will now offer my interpretation of an op-ed written in the Wash. Post today by Margaret Spellings, the secretary of education from 2005-9. She pointed out that achievement gaps between races, ethnic groups in elementary and middle school have largely closed but that gaps remain as students move into high school. Of course she recommends more money thrown into schools, better teachers, etc.--all we have heard of for years and years.

My interpretation of the problem is simple to state and therefore should be quite easy to criticize. I believe achievement gaps are closed in elementary and middle school because all races and ethnic groups are capable of a minimum of accomplishment, but as students move into high school--as learning becomes progressively more difficult--gaps start opening between certain races and ethnic groups. Whites and Asians and Jews move ahead but Hispanics and Blacks lag for example. And it only gets worse as we move into college and begin seeing racial, ethnic group distribution in Master's degrees and PhDs.

So there you have it. An explanation of myself and more to criticize. The question now is does anyone have the courage and intelligence to provide an honest and correct and insightful criticism of what I write or is everyone going to take the cowardly route which amounts to me being ostracized or forced into exile or even killed. And if anyone thinks I am exaggerating with those last few words, so far as I can tell if anyone were to have power over me I would be silenced forever.

So which will it be? Honest criticism or cowardice? I await the answer.

Think2 Author Profile Page :

Q: How can we reduce our vulnerability to risks posed by global interconnectedness - from swine flu to financial contagion to terrorist threats?

A: We must learn to share and save the world. We must restructure our global institutions so that Earth's resources are available to ALL peoples so that they may have the basic necessities of life: nourishing food, adequate shelter and healthcare, and all the education they need. When we do this, we will take the first step into our future security. A Teacher is about to speak on this very subject on a major US television interview program. The interview will take place shortly after the public has widespread knowledge about a star-like luminary now being seen all over the world. It is his star and the sign of his immanent interview. See: http://www.share-international.org.

What risks do you see on the horizon? The greatest risk is that of nuclear war.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Moral authority? What moral authority? We don't have moral authority we have arrogance born out of wealth. There is a huge difference. For the most part we have always been a country that says do as we say and not as we do. We abhorred torture, but committed it anyway and are now trying to run around and justify it. We have shown the rest of the world that we firmly believe only they can commit human rights violations. Apparently, you missed the irony of the US torturing people on the Island of Cuba at Gitmo. On one hand we're telling the Cubans they are in violation of basic human rights while on the other we're using a piece of land on their Island to do exactly the same thing. That's moral authority? I know, I know, we did committed human rights violations for noble reasons and we would argue they didn't. This assumes one actually knows what a noble reason is. We have a fairly long history of supporting dictators as long as they are pro-American and we need them. However, on the other hand we'll take to task any dictator who isn't pro-American. That's moral authority? We are constantly talking of China's human rights violations and at the same time setting up factories in China so we can have cheap consumer goods. We'll write tax codes that benefit businesses that want to open factories overseas and deprive our own citizens of jobs. Again, this could go on for pages. The point is if you want to talk the talk you have to be able to walk the walk. In absence of this one is just seen as hypocritical.

You confuse moral superiority with wealth. Just because we have more money doesn't have a thing to do with moral superiority. Tibetian monks have tons of moral superiority and they have no money. The Swedes, for the most part, and the Swiss can make a case for moral superiority, but watching someone in this country attempt it is folly.

If a country is engaging in practices that disgust us we shouldn't be doing business with them. It should never have been if they disgust us, but we deem it in our security interests we should do business with them anyway. The Phillipines under Marcos comes to mind. Moral superiority is knowing the difference and acting accordingly. Moral superiortiy is not Condi Rice telling the students of Stanford if the president authorized torture it can't be illegal. We may be a lot things, but morally superior we are not.

If you're really interested in moral superiority then turn liberal. Oppose wars without clear and convincing evidence it's within our best interests to conduct. Oppose torture. Oppose dealing with morally bankrupt regimes and not just the ones that are convienent. Oppose the death penalty. Oppose our incarceration rate. Oppose the squawler 20% of our own population lives in. Oppose human rights violations no matter where they occur and hold those who engage in them accountable. This is the path to moral superiority.

I have stated before and I'll state again, I love this country. I have fought for this country. However, even at age 19 I had no illusions to our moral superiority unless you wanted to compare us with the worst of the worst. We are a work in progress and hopefully if the party that wants to turn a blind eye to those issues that make us far from being morally superior gets out of the way me actually reach it some day. Peace is a laudable goal, but it can not and should not be at the expense of moral superiority. At least liberals know the difference.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Your first paragraph is a great point. We are subject to criticism - just like any other culture. We are an evolving democracy. Its quite possible that they are right, and we’ll amend our ways to become a better society. We’ve come a long ways, and made some remarkable changes - as have all western democracies. We can always improve and so can everyone else. Case after case goes to the Supreme Court to solve issues - many pertaining to civil rights. We can become a better, more equitable democracy.

The second paragraph is interesting.

How can you say that the US has no moral authority to criticize - say, Cuba - for human rights violations when your only interest is in peace anyway? As long as there is peace between the US and Cuba, then what they do internally is none of our business.

Our moral authority is irrelevant. Only peace matters.

And if this is what you believe, then you agree with the foreign policy of China which states (basically) that they will not interfere in the internal policies of the country they do business with, for example, Sudan or Miramar.

That’s quite a trade off of your liberal values for the elusive goal of world peace. Wouldn’t you expect this philosophy from a Republican executive at Exxon? Or maybe a “free trading” libertarian?

Believe me, this doesn’t surprise me in the least. I calculated awhile back that liberalism has undergone a world-wide change. There is a “strain” of vocal anti American (anti Israel) liberalism which espouses a peace at all costs philosophy. That’s why so many liberals are at ease with the apology tour - because they blame the US (and Israel) for much of the terrorism and problems in the world today. Certainly, without these two countries, the world would be mostly peaceful…..

Try posting on the Guardian. You’ll see what I mean.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

Memo to file:

"... cultures and genetics of a people are identical..." (daniel12, PG,May 4, 2009 6:01 AM)

blund Author Profile Page :

Daniel,

I was so hoping you were over the genetics arguments (or lack thereof), but apparently not. Some people invoke God to explain what they can't as their default position. Not you. Nope, you invoke genetics to explain what you can't. It's like a religion with you. As disgusting as radical Islam thought is it pales in comparison to racist genetic arguments. Myself, and others, have tried in vain to point this out to you, but you can't help yourself. If you want to known as a radical racist pig just keep invoking genetics for everything you can't explain. Your arguments are hateful and offensive.

daniel12 Author Profile Page :

On globalization and the vulnerabilities in moving toward such a project.

The first thing one should state about globalization is the obvious, namely that it is the continued spread of the crescendo of the greatest human event that ever existed: The Western scientific revolution. Out of the genetics of Western man a cultural height occurred which everyone worldwide is racing to emulate because this cultural height assures far more securely than any other cultural movement the adaptation of man to his environment. All other cultures except the Western scientific revolution culture have been relatively limited, producing art and religions, etc. yes, but not having the means born of the methodology of science to extend themselves until a network of communications and physical travel exists which makes man finally not only true master of the globe but to be able to head into outer space.

And the biggest vulnerability to this spread of scientific methodology which has given us so much of what no religion, no artistic movement, etc. has been able to give us is the line of reasoning which says that all people are genetically equal and differ only as to culture (people consider culture to be something separate from genetics in an insidious mind/body type of dualism) therefore all people should easily be able to strap upon themselves the heights Western science has achieved. In other words if all people are genetically equal and differ only as to culture precisely what people call cultural transmission from teacher to student--learning--should easily take place between peoples--just as the discoveries of relatively few Western scientists rapidly spread throughout Western civilization.

But this cultural transmission of Western science is meeting with quite evident obstacles when spread around the world and seems to spread rapidly to only certain places such as Japan which of course now has one of the greatest economies in the world. So why exactly is it that the heights of Western civilization are not spreading equally and rapidly across the globe, putting at bay such things as the spread of disease and terrorism? My answer is that all people are not genetically equal--specifically, as to intelligence. Some peoples, such as the Japanese, rapidly take the heights of Western civilization--science by which we arrive at motorcars and lights, etc.--to themselves and even brilliantly innovate on what was acquired (Japanese cars, stereo equipment, etc.), while other peoples just cannot seem to rise up into modernity no matter how much foreign aid is given, no matter how exposed these people are to the great ideas and inventions born of the application of the methodology of science.

And even in Western civilization most people insist that the problem is not a difference in genetics, but a "cultural" difference. In fact it seems some people are so defensive they not only say all people are genetically equal but that all cultures are the same and no one culture has the right to try to change another. This of course is called multiculturalism. And in this multicultural view we get strange notions such as that, yes, so many scientific findings from Western civilization must spread, but all these findings are perfectly compatible with whatever culture, no matter how unmodified the culture is, no matter how little it wants to imitate Western civilization in other regards. Well we can see the results of that, whether a person wants to speak of trying to contain a disease or prevent a terrorist from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Any person can see that the antidote for everything from economic instability to the spread of disease to terrorism is more of the best of Western civilization, an even spread of what we call modernity.

But precisely because the heights of Western civilization cannot spread evenly everywhere we have all these secondary vulnerabilities which people not only call primary but attribute to anything but what results from a clear, honest, courageous view of what is happening when we speak of globalization. Everyone takes things piecemeal, saying the antidote to the spread of disease is better medicine spread everywhere and better cooperation between nations. And something of the same is said concerning economic matters and the proliferation of WMD. But none of that addresses the fundamental problem, and to be honest with you, I have no idea how to solve it.

How do we solve the problem of globalization when people begin realizing that one should not speak of culture as if it is divorced from genetics but that cultures and genetics of a people are identical--and that cultural transmission occurs rapidly and satisfyingly only when two peoples are relatively equal as to ability--and that on the ground unfortunately all people are not genetically the same? Of course seeing the problem clearly is better than not seeing it at all and striving to spread the heights of Western civilization as if any people should be able to easily learn it. And of course seeing the problem clearly is much better than interpreting events to be that Western civilization is destroying other cultures and oppressing people, etc. (And concerning this last note, the fact is Western civilization has helped people prosper more than any other civilization in the world--which is why modernity is so often striven for by others in the first place). But still, seeing the problem clearly is still a problem. We have a true puzzle when we speak of globalization.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

It's one thing to say we believe in representive democracy, relative freedom and relative human rights. It's another to say everyone has to believe as we do. If a culture doesn't believe women should have equal rights I believe that is their perogative. There are several countries that would consider our execution of people barbaric and of very low moral character. Are we? There are several countries that considered our torture of people crimes against humanity. Were they? Most northern Europeans who visit the US are impressed by the size and scope of this country on one hand and totally disgusted by the slums of our inner cities on the other. They cannot understand how the richest country in the world allows so many people to live in abject poverty. They find this appalling. I could keep this line of thought going, but then you'll accuse me of being an American hater, which I'm not.

My point is we are used to our transgressions and we shrug our shoulders to them. Then we turn around and pick on other cultures for not being more like us. Personally, I think this is counterproductive. If we agree globalization is here to stay and will continue to make all of us more interconnected only two things can happen over time. Either we learn to live together and respect each other or we will end up killing each other. I'm not a pessimist, but flip a coin as to the outcome in the next humdred or so years. I think it could go either way. You simply can't shrink the world and cram all of the different cultures, religions and politically ideologies together without expecting friction. Since there is zero chance will convert the Muslims, Hindu's, Chinese, etc. to our way of life anytime soon the best an old liberal can hope for is peaceful co-existence.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Bob

Let any culture, or society keep any tradition, or value they want - just as long as “equality” is promoted . You cannot hide human and civil rights abuses behind something called culture (cultural relativism) or an abusive system of government. India still has the caste system, but equality is at least promoted - on paper. Cultures don’t change overnight, but they need to change. Every inhabitant (of any country) should believe they are living in the best country in the world, but not if their country demotes certain minorities (or women) to a second class status, or for example, if there is no freedom of the press. Some cultures promote female genital mutilation. Some governments promote murder and rape like Sudan and the Congo.

Ignatius is right in the sense that we cannot march into every country and force on their society a new government with equal rights for all. He is wrong if he thinks we should be silent about human and civil rights abuses because of cultural differences. That’s absurd. Dignity is certainly one byproduct of equality and opportunity. I think everyone understands that concept.

Sweden and Germany might be more socialistic, but human and civil rights is every bit as good in Germany and Sweden as here. Saudi Arabia? No. China? No, but certainly more economic freedom now. India? No, not yet, but their government is committed to democratic rule, so they will get there in time.

Preserve and promote democracy, Bob. It’s not only the “right” thing to do, it’s the “liberal” thing to do.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

You need to travel more overseas and talk to more people from different cultures. Not everyone on this planet wants to be like us. In fact, most don't. Sure, they like shopping here. Who wouldn't? Sure, Indians like coming over here for economic opportunities. Even people from Latin America love coming here to make money. That's very different then loving us or wanting to emulate us. The moment economic factors go away we're not loved that much. Don't confuse the desire to make a buck and buy cheap consumer goods with ideals like equal rights and democracy.

Take a poll in almost any country on this earth and ask the single question: What's the best country in the world and with few exceptions the vast majority will say theirs. Hence, Ignatius was right. It is demeaning to tell someone they should be more like us. Go to Sweden and tell them their form of socialism isn't up to par. They'll be very polite, roll their eyes in their heads and wonder how much longer their country will have to put up you. Better yet go into Germany and tell them their social democracy is lacking and they will probably beat the crap out of you.

We are all aware while globalization is taking place everyday we still live in a world where harmony is a day to day condition. There are no doubts conditions will necessitate our intervention from time to time. Afghanistan is such a case. (Iraq was not)

It's certainly understandable to have pride in one's country. What isn't acceptable is having to put down other cultures to feel good about your own.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Globalization is here to stay within the limits imposed on Earth by deminishing availability of cheap power, especially oil, which is necessary for the distributioon of goods from rural to urban, within each, and from nation to nations or continent to continent.

Aside from global warming, which is undisputable, the major problem of the world is to develop, install and distribute as much electricity as possible to replace oil/gas/coal especilly in the transport sector IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS. The remaining oil/gas/coal is necesary for our civilization in manufactured goods [check your house/garage, to see how much plastic there is within], for pestacide, herbacide, medical purposes and large farm equipment.

Try the thought experiment: NEW YORK CITY without trucks, diesel trains or bunker fuel powered ocean transport ships versus availability of any good, especially food and source of heat for winter.

Were the technology and political will missing from developing and installing above electric power, globalization is caput, and so is the majority of human beings - for without diesel for tractor, combines, and without herbacoide/pestacide, the Earth can only feed approx 1.5-2 billion people if farming reverts to xix century manpower and animal power.

This constraint has nothing to do with liberalism, democracy, dictatorship or any other political system, this constraint is the physical limit put on civilization. If the politicians especially in developed world and China do not act soon, our children and grandchildren will face a catastrophe, unseen since the plaque in Europe in the past [40% or more mortality].

The USA is the one which will face the greatest shock, as that nation is the most profiliguous user of energy, especially its totally useless DoD and war making appratus - for the investment/costs thereof deduct from that availaqble to necessary endevours, such as power grid [1.5-2 trillion dollars], solar/wind/nuclear/tidal [power generation 2-3 trillion dollars], tranforming housing commercial industrial building to highly efficient energy users [??trillions] versus approx 1 trillion per year for Dod, D of Energy, interst on war debts, 16 spy agancies, etc.

Soon there will be no choice if the historical warmongering of the USA does not cease, and transform its material needs as it did after WWII.

PLEASE NOPTE THE PRESENT STOCK OF FOOD WORLD WIDE IS THE LOWEST IN YEARS, AS THE POPULATION GROWS BY GEOMETRIC VARIANCE [excluding W. Europe and China].

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

PG

Roger Cohen, “Palin’s American Exception” September 25. 2008

“…The damn-the-world, God-chose-us rage of that America has sharpened as U.S. exceptionalism has become harder to square with the 21st-century world’s INTERCONNECTEDNESS…” My emphasis.

The term “interconnected” is a political term used to promote an agenda. The world is so interwoven that we must all work together to solve our problems. Multilateralism over unilateralism. Multiculturalists over cultural supremacist. Peace over human rights. Social market capitalism (socialism) over capitalism. Collectivism over individual freedom. Social cohesion over freedom of the press. Respect and dignity over democracy……

David Ignatius writes (“The Dignity Agenda”, Washington Post, October 14, 2007):

“…Indeed, when people hear President Bush preaching about democratic values, it often comes across as a veiled assertion of American power. The implicit message is that other countries should be more like us -- replacing their institutions, values and traditions with ours. We mean well, but people feel disrespected. The bromides and exhortations are a further assault on their dignity…”

Yes, Mr., Ignatius, other countries should be more like us when their institutions, values and traditions trample basic human rights. That’s how people acquire dignity. Can a women have dignity in the caste system in India? Can the Tibetans have dignity when their culture is being overrun by Han Chinese? Can a Shiite have dignity in Saudi Arabia? Can a Palestinian have dignity while Israel builds settlements in the West Bank?

Dignity is what the weak (minorities) seek within every culture, but they can only find it within a liberal democracy. That’s why we have a President with a Kenyon heritage, because in our society (culture), we have the opportunity to advance free of the weight of bigotry. Dignity is a product of freedom because it applies to everyone, and doesn’t favor ethnicity, gender, or religion.

To be sure, we are not a society free of discrimination (nor is any) but our society promotes - demands - equality, and opportunity is a byproduct of equality. Yes, Mr. Ignatius other peoples would love to be more like us, but they are impeded by authoritarian rule, and societies that violate basic human rights and participate in cultural submission of minorities and the weak.

As a pure unapologetic cultural supremacist, the way forward seems obvious. I’m thankful for what liberalism brought us, but skeptical of where its leading us.

GaryEMasters Author Profile Page :

Of course we can - and will. Decentralize, decentralize and then decentralize. Give everyone a home with solar cells, wind power and even geothermal energy that can be located anywhere they want to live. Put people on computers to work at a distance. The big city will fade and our enemies will have no targets. Then complete the process by making food local and information global. Make homes weather proof and energy efficient and we will be all set.

Happy age of abundance.

cgillard Author Profile Page :

One man's risk is another's potential I suppose. If you want to eliminate the risks of interconnectedness then stop pretending it is a world of individuals unrelated to each other.
For terrorism we say don't try and understand them just destroy them!
Better consider that their collateral damage on 9/11 is our innocent victims but then our collateral damage in Iraq and Afghanistan are their innocent victms.
Consider for a moment that Manhattan Island was gotten from the Indians for trinkets that they may have only thought were gifts not haveing a concept of property ownership. Who is innocent?
How about some of the financial institutions in the World Trade Tower and the impact Wall Street has just had around the world sending countries into bankruptcy. The other target the Pentagon, are they innocent victims when we constantly refer to the bases all around the world as a way to project American power. Is our strategic interests always in the rest of the world's interest.
In a globalizing world we need a global consciousness not an old world of territoriality and Nationalism. A world of merging self preservation insincts and fear of strangers with ideological concepts that separate un into good and evil empires, the good and the demonized.

Developing a world history that sees and acknowledges everyone's point of view would be impossible. We couldn't even agree for long as to what country is what. All people hide and ignore their faults and attrocities. Forget they even happened, make it against the law to disparage themselves. Pretend there was no civil war or that we didn't expropriate all of our land from Indians or other indigenous people still suffering economic hardship. That western civilization joined the military,merchants, and missionaries into a juggernaut that raped and pillaged the world.

For a globalized world to work, and we are interdependent whether we live like it or not, we have to be able to see and empathize with all sides all the time, at least to the point that everyone knows their view is taken seriously. Collateral damage is a term that sanitizes the end justifies the means. Buring things from one war to the next is not workable and we may be the cause our own extinction if we can't begin to see that we all share this tiny jewel of life called Earth and have more respect for it than we have grievances with each other. We really are all brothers and sisters here.

blund Author Profile Page :

The short answer to the question is we can't. The die has already been cast. The world is becoming smaller as both transportation and communications improve. Since there is zero chance of turning back the clock on either of these industries globalization is not only here to stay, but will continue to shrink the planet.

Anyone who would argue for isolationism today is simply having a bad dream not grounded in the reality of the trends over the past 100 years. I argued against the building of the southern wall in the US for this very reason. First, it reeked of isolationism under the guise of national security. Second, it wouldn't work and was a waste of money.

Unfortunately, globalization has made the possibility of pandemics a price we will pay for globalization. Simply too many people are mobile today to stop an outbreak. The benefits of globalization so far outweigh the negative consequences all we can do over this topic is use our increased and better trained medical personnel along with pharmasueticals (partly thanks to globalization) along with quarantines to attack pandemics as aggressively as possible. Does this eliminate the probability of a future pandemic outbreak that ends up killing millions of people? Of course not. However, it does reduce the odds. It's the best we can hope for given the circumstances of our lives today.

George20 Author Profile Page :

Not good to be alone.
USA needs to make more Friends.
USA is only one country, less than 5% of world population.
W

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

Interconnectedness is one of the essential, irreversible characteristics of the vulnerable world we live in.

As long as we shall refuse to make it a world for all and insist on making it one for the few at the expense of what has come to be known as “the rest”, pandemics will come back to haunt us, originating in all likelihood from where “the rest” keeps on struggling to survive.

As long as we shall refuse to make it a world for all and insist on making it one for the rich at the expense of “the rest”, financial contagion will come back to haunt us, from where “the rest” keeps on struggling to survive.

As long as we shall refuse to make it a world for all and insist on making it one for the strong at the expense of “the rest”, terrorism will come back to haunt us, originating in all likelihood from where “the rest” keeps on struggling to survive.

Isolationism can no more reduce our common vulnerability. We cannot even survive in isolation. We are condemned to live in a world where interconnectedness and interdependency are the norm.

Our choice is between “one world one dream” and “one world one nightmare”. On the horizon, the increasing threat of self-destruction.

“The era of the finite world has begun.” ("Le temps du monde fini commence.") -- Paul Valéry (1945)

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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.