Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Few Bad Apples - No (Way!)

I've just finished Valerie Plame Wilson's book: "Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House" - an excellent book. The book paints a damning picture of the lies and deceptions of Republican leadership including more than a few powerful individuals.

I am troubled though by Plame Wilson's naivete about basic U.S. policy abroad. Obviously to work for the CIA as a spy for 20 years requires a core belief in support of U.S. governmental policies. I don't share such a perspective.

Obviously the U.S. is not "the devil" or necessarily worse in many ways than many others throughout the world. It is important to recognize that we are the most powerful country in the world militarily as well as in various other ways. Where we do good things they may be recognized more deeply - as has happened with our acceptance of immigrants over several centuries of our history. Where we do "bad things" they can have far more impact upon many others than the actions of less powerful nations.

We have a history of "doing bad" which most of us should be very aware of. Examples which readily come to mind include:

1.) The capture and enslavement of Black Africans until slavery was ended in 1865,
2.) The devastation of the lives and survival of Native Americans continuing at least until very recently, if not continuing through the present,
3.) Legal denials of equal rights to African-Americans for a century following the Civil War including killing and maiming many (as well as many racist incidents and practices since then),
4.) Requiring Japanese-Americans (only those living along the West Coast) to live in concentration camps during World War II while other Japanese-Americans were accepted into the U.S. military and allowed to live "normal lives",
5.) Overthrowing and helping to overthrow the governments of countries such as Chile, Guatemala, Iran, Panama and attempting to overthrow the government of Cuba,
6.) Kidnapping and imprisoning supposed "terrorists" in recent years who have had few or no rights to establish their innocence of committing crimes - totally apart from our invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Where our country makes decisions they frequently reflect large business interests such as the concerns of defense contractors and weapons manufacturers.

While we can obviously find particular U.S. presidents such as Reagan and George W. Bush as particularly "bad" we should not forget President Clinton ordering diversionary raids causing much devastation while trying to fend off the increasing noose related to his affair with Ms. Lewinski.

Barack Obama is not "pure" or "clean", though he's had less chances to hurt others than his predecessors.

Let's not be naive! While we may see ourselves as "not as bad as ..." that is far different from recognizing our Very Mixed record continuing through the present.


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