Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thanks To Bush, U.S. Has Little Moral Authority To Lecture Russia Now

Morally, it was easier, before Bush. The U.S. never exactly had a spotless record on international (or domestic) aggression, but there were usually ample rationalizations to which one could point. In 2008, there are few rationalizations left, so it sounds ludicrous for American officials to try to scold Russia over the invasion of neighboring Georgia.

Until Il Doofus and the Neocons engineered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were usually at least some convoluted reasons trotted out as to why the U.S. did certain unsavory things, and the reasons even held up as folklore. (Yes, I know there are still plenty of morons who think Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11 attacks, but for now let's confine the debate to participants who can actually think.)

Let's review some history. War with Spain in 1898 was supposed to have been precipitated in part by the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine, though in hindsight it's far-fetched that Spain had anything to do with that. Cuba was very near, and home to many U.S. interests, so with an insurrection there was a great opportunity to kick Spaniard ass and steal some colonies. We made a casino/plantation/whorehouse out of Cuba for 60 years, and killed a million Filipinos while subjugating their country.

Later, our Marines were in Nicaragua so many times, chasing Sandino and his ilk around, that they should have just renamed the place Camp Lejeune South. We violated sovereign territory down that direction as often as United Fruit Co. could think of a reason.

There are those who think of the Vietnam War as a flat-out invasion of Vietnam by the U.S. The rationale was, of course, that it was part of the larger Cold War against communism. That was the argument that die-hards still cling to today -- the reason it was supposed to be OK to prop up a succession of puppet autocracies in the south, doggedly pursue a war that killed some 3 million Vietnamese, poison the countryside for generations and divide our own country for -- yes, generations. We wuz a-fightin' common-ism.

Let's see -- there were CIA-engineered or CIA-aided regime changes in countries like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973) and others. There were invasions of Panama, Grenada, Cambodia, Laos ...

So far, I'm just hitting "high" points that go back to 1898. It goes back further. There was a war with Mexico that made it possible for me and my forebears to reside in this paradise of the Lone Star State, under American protection. And then, there were those pesky Comanches who once lived just about where I sit, long before Hernando Cortes was a gleam in his daddy's eye. You generally have to drive up to Lawton, Oklahoma to see a live Comanche now, and they look pretty damned depressed, what's left of them.

Not to belabor this -- but the U.S. really didn't have all that damn much moral authority on the world stage B.B. (Before Bush) Arguably, we had our own holocausts, our own wars of conquest, our own slaughters and subjugation of peoples. I won't even start on slavery.

But, at certain points in the 20th century, America seemed to stand tall. We led the alliance that defeated German Nazism, and also Japanese and Italian fascism. The folly of Vietnam aside, we led a very long fight against Stalinist communism in an eerie new kind of war, and won. After a century of post-slavery Jim Crow, we reformed this society's racist heritage to such an extent that our next president may be a man of mixed race. There is much to be proud of here.

A lot has changed since 2003. When Il Doofus and his accomplices manufactured reasons for an invasion of Iraq, they all but destroyed what was left of U.S. moral authority on the world stage. A lot of people recalled that Saddam Hussein was our ally in the '80s, and that we even supplied him with the WMDs he used on the Kurds. Just what made Saddam so alarmingly evil to us, 15 years after? Perhaps it was all that oil he was sitting on, and that we couldn't get to as long as he was there.

That was an invasion of a sovereign nation, albeit a dictatorship, with flimsy rationale that have been discredited and perhaps even exposed as deliberate lies. About a million people and counting have died as a direct result, and the number of refugees can't be accurately estimated.

Now, George W. Bush musters enough chutzpah to say something like, "Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people."

First, one could question whether the latter part of that sentence even describes the contemporary United States. But given the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the continued U.S. occupation, can a sane, reasonably informed person think that most of the world even begins to take him seriously?

One thing is certain: Vladimir Putin and his puppet successor as Russian prez do not. I've been convinced for years that Putin and his wife tell Bush jokes in private. Just imagine what the jesting is like now.