Sunday, September 22, 2013

Don't Get Mad at Vlad 3

   Yesterday we were discussing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s September 11th New York Times op-ed piece directed toward the American people concerning the United States' President  Obama Administration’s intent to bomb Syria because the Bashar al-Assad administration of Syria supposedly used chemical weapons against rebel forces in a Damascus suburb on August 21st, killing nearly 1,500 civilians, including at least 426 children.
   To date more than 100,000 people have died since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, with millions of Syrian refugees being displaced to neighboring countries such as Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey. Life in refugee camps in those countries is no picnic. It would be like being forced to move to Alabama here in the U.S.
   Secretary of State John Kerry seems hell bent on attacking Syria (a very small, limited, targeted attack. So what’s the purpose you might ask? To send a message, Kerry and Obama would say). President Obama seems to be trying to find any way possible not to attack Syria. Why?
   "More than seven in 10 Americans simply don't see a military response making any difference. They don't see it doing any good. They're very skeptical, post Iraq and even post Libya and post Egypt, that the United States can do something in a limited way in the Middle East and walk away with a success. And so the skepticism is driving it right now," says said John King, CNN chief national correspondent, in response to a September 7th CNN poll.
   Janet Weil writing for AlterNet amassed some other reasons the American people don’t want to attack Syria here.
   I agree with all of those reasons. By golly, come to think of it, I’m one of those American people!
   Vladimir Putin and  Bashar al-Assad  agree as well. Does that make them Americans? Of course not! Don’t be ridiculous, but they are certainly against an American attack no matter how small, limited, and targeted it is.
   Putin points out in his op-ed that military force has proven ineffective during United States foreign intervention in the past in practically every instance. I have to agree. We’re still in Afghanistan. I have absolutely no idea why. The country’s a complete mess. Nothing, in my opinion, has been accomplished there other than to provide a base from which American forces killed Osama bin Laden. The Taliban have been removed from power, but the political vacuum that will undoubtedly arise when the American forces leave next year will give them a golden opportunity to return. So what was accomplished?
   No really, I want to know. If any of you know, dear readers, please leave a comment and let the rest of us in on it.
   Putin continues by pointing out there is no accountable ruling authority and no constitution in Libya after the murder of Muammar Gaddafi, which was the result of another NATO, U.S. sponsored, limited attack.
   Civil war between religious factions still exists in Iraq. Just 3 hours ago as I write this an ABC News reported on the Internet Machine that two separate bombings, including a suicide car bomb attack, have killed two security force members and wounded 37 people in northern Iraq just this morning! I mean who would want to live in a country like that, where almost everybody has a gun, and people go around shooting other people all of the time. I certainly wouldn’t.
   Thank the Lord we live here in the good old USA!
   Not that Putin believes that Iran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons technology, but he wonders at why they may want to, with countries like the United States seeming so eager to invade other countries in the region to force it’s will upon them? I have to wonder myself. Are we in fact promoting nuclear proliferation by our foreign military adventures? We seem to be leaving North Korea, which has the bomb, pretty much to itself.
   Vladimir suggests the world, not just the United States, ceases using force to gain it’s foreign policy objectives, but return to civilized diplomacy... and crippling economic sanctions.   
   Putin goes on to admit that President Obama, by accepting his offer to intervene in Syria, has turned away from the use of force, and a new way is now open to dispose of that country’s store of deadly chemical weapons, paving the way for the Assad government and rebel forces to kill each other by conventional means, as God intended.
   Since no one, the U.S., Russia, the UN, or anyone else is suggesting a regime change take place in Syria, the continuation of the civil war is the inevitable result.
   President Putin welcomes the chance to talk and work with President Obama about Syria, bla, bla, bla.
   Personally I hope that we don’t go ahead and bomb Syria. I hope we don’t bomb anybody! I also wish the UN would do the job it was created to do and attempt to begin a dialogue between the Assad government and rebel forces to end the hostilities in a reasonable, monitored fashion, and oh yeah, while getting rid of all of those deadly chemicals, because that’s going to be a big job, which will take a long time.
   All right, now to Vlad’s last paragraph, where he managed to stick in a real zinger, the possible reason why Senator Menendez wanted to projectile vomit all over everybody, and got so many other politicians so upset. He refused to admit that the United States of America and it’s citizen’s are far superior to everybody else on the planet, simply by being the United States of America, which God loves more than anybody else.
   As a matter of fact God is an American, or at least an honorary American, or actually, if God where to come down from Heaven and enter our country illegally, we’d grant him (for God is surely a man) amnesty, and could become a naturalized citizen, and enjoy all of the benefits thereof (like getting a driver’s license, Social Security, food stamps (if the Republicans haven’t shut down the SNAP program by the time God gets here that is), on and on).  
   Putin pointed out that President Obama in his speech to the nation which can found above, made a case for American exceptionalism. Obama said American policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” Our policies like bombing other countries whenever we want to. Obama’s right of course. What other country can do that?
   Come to think of it, I guess Russia itself could get away with it if they wanted to... and China... and France... Great Britain, possibly some others. Maybe those countries are exceptional too?
   But if those other countries are exceptional too, doesn’t that mean... oh man, I’m getting a headache.
   Maybe it’s our vast immigration policy that makes us exceptional. What’s that? Oh yeah, we don’t have an immigration policy.
   Our universal health care for all of our citizens? Aaahhh no, I guess not.
   Our social safety net, like medicare and social security and food stamps? We do have those, so I’m almost positive that no one would want to diminish them in any way, or turn them over to private interests who would destroy them in the casino stock market just for gross financial gain.
   But other countries have social safety nets too! God damn it!
   Oh, sorry God.
   We pioneered the atomic bomb and the technology to destroy ourselves a thousand times over. That truly is exceptional.
   Wikipedia tells us, “American exceptionalism is the theory that the United States is "qualitatively different" from other nations. In this view, America's exceptionalism stems from its emergence from a revolution, becoming what political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset called "the first new nation" and developing a uniquely American ideology, "Americanism", based on liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, republicanism, populism and laissez-faire. This ideology itself is often referred to as "American exceptionalism."
   Although the term does not necessarily imply superiority, many neoconservative and American conservative writers have promoted its use in that sense. To them, the United States is like the biblical shining "City upon a Hill", and exempt from historical forces that have affected other countries.”
   City upon a hill... like Denver? It’s the Mile-High City right? It must be on a freaking hill or mountain of some kind. Do mountains count?
   No other countries have cities like that, I’m sure.
   Maybe Tibet.
   Jesus. Oh yeah, Jesus said something about a city on a hill in his Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:14 (I do know my Bible) states Jesus saying “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
   But what the hell does that mean?
   Ooopps, sorry Jesus.
   Wikipedia tells us that the phrase is popular with American politicians. Some Puirtan guy used it in a sermon and it stuck in the American lexicon giving “ rise to the widespread belief in American folklore that the United States of America is God's country because metaphorically it is a Shining City upon a Hill, an early example of American exceptionalism.” -Wikipedia.
   John Kennedy used it. Ronald Reagan a couple of times. Well if politicians say we’re exceptional it must be true.
   America is exceptional in many ways. Our history is exceptional. Our culture is exceptional. Our Constitution is exceptional. We were the first to walk on the moon. We are the world’s largest exporter of porn and fast, unhealthy food. The United States has the worst income inequality in the developed world, that must count for something!
   But other countries are also exceptional in many ways, which averages out the “Exceptionality Coefficient Factor.”
   I believe Mr Putin’s point is that it is dangerous to encourage belief, or to believe that we are somehow better than all of the other people that inhabit this planet. I know politicians have to say stuff like that to win elections, and people like to hear that kind of stuff, but that doesn’t make it true.
   And truth is beautiful.
   That’s why I watch MSNBC instead of FOX.
   Ooouuh! Smack down, baby! Didn’t see that one coming, did ya? Ha, ha, ha!
   Am I defending President Putin above our own President and American policies? To an extent I guess I am. To the extent that Putin is right. I pointed out when he was wrong and when he was lying, but he also spoke the truth to many things and that must be recognized.
   Is he and Russia our enemy? I don’t believe so. Is he and Russia our friend? Possibly. To the extent that our friendship benefits Russia he and it are.
   At least he was not rude, or made personal attacks on our President and form of government, or openly advocated for the overthrow of our government, as Senator John McCain managed to do in his own op-ed piece which was a response to Putin’s.
   Published in Russia’s, an online newsletter, September 19th, McCain started out by saying he was more Russian than the Russian leadership.
   “I make that claim because I respect your dignity and your right to self-determination. I believe you should live according to the dictates of your conscience, not your government. I believe you deserve the opportunity to improve your lives in an economy that is built to last and benefits the many, not just the powerful few. You should be governed by a rule of law that is clear, consistently and impartially enforced and just. I make that claim because I believe the Russian people, no less than Americans, are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
   McCain seems to want to share our American version of God with the Russians (one God fits all, right?), and our Constitution. His piece is not directed to any specific issue, as was Putin’s, but just a pure critique, a bitch session if you will, directed at Putin and the Russian government. Some of his points are valid (like Putin’s use of the Russian judicial system to squash internal dissent, and his stance on homosexuality in the country), and some are not. Many of the criticisms McCain describes America is guilty of as well.
   In John’s (we’re on a first name basis) last paragraph he longs for the day when Russia is free of Putin and his regime:
   “I do believe in you. I believe in your capacity for self-government and your desire for justice and opportunity. I believe in the greatness of the Russian people, who suffered enormously and fought bravely against terrible adversity to save your nation. I believe in your right to make a civilization worthy of your dreams and sacrifices. When I criticize your government, it is not because I am anti-Russian. It is because I believe you deserve a government that believes in you and answers to you. And, I long for the day when you have it.”
   I don’t know why Senator McCain felt it necessary to respond to Putin, especially since our own State Department did not. Perhaps it’s his egomaniacal need to stay in the public limelight, who knows? I know this for sure, nothing Putin has done, the Russian government has done, or the Russian people themselves has done to damage, disparage, and traumatize their own country, than John McCain did to America by setting lose the horror that is Sarah Palin.
   Following in this sudden outbreak of op-ed mania, the newly elected President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani (who holds a degree of power in Iran about as equal to our Secretary of State. The real authority and power is held by the Supreme Leader, as it should be considering his title, and who is currently Ali Hosseini Khamene) published his own op-ed last Friday in the Washington Post.
   In it he says a lot of things, but mainly he express a new willingness to open relations with the rest of the world, which would include the United States, and which would also open the real possibility of international monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program (a desire to end economic sanctions against Iran could be a motivating force), which would be a defeat for American neoconservatives like John McCain, who would like nothing more than to “Bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran,” right now if it could be arranged, but would be a victory for the rest of the world.
   President Obama has offered to talk face to face with Rouhani on this matter. Let’s hope those talks come to fruition.

Other ways the United States is exceptional.

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