Blog of Mass Distraction

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Our Values

In the course of my regular surfing I came across a funny description of the current Bush international policy plan, that is, an "Orwellian nightmare". I can see what he means with the US international face being Condi Rice, John Bolton, Wolfowitz and of course Bush himself. But I don't think this type of positioning of hard right wingers is totally new. Most of the key players in Bush's cabinet are recycled Reaganites and Bush Sr was little better. Now granted Bolton did say "there is no such thing as the United Nations" and "If the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference",1 Rice (who announced his appointment) noted that some of the best ambassadors have been ones with the strongest voices like Jeane Kirkpatrick.2 Kirkpatrick was the US Ambassador to the UN during Reagan's time and is noted as saying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is "a letter to Santa Claus", completely unrealistic and useless.
Wolfowitz for his part says his credentials for the new role include, among other things, his time spent as ambassador to Indonesia. This was during Suharto's leadership, so I'm sure Wolfowitz got lots of first hand experience as he watched Indonesia develop East Timor. In the prolonged annexation, occupation, and massacre more than 10% of the population of the tiny half-island was killed. The US supported the genocide right through the 90s and vetoed 9 security council resolutions that condemned Indonesia's campaign.

On another note, Bush's current popularity has dropped severely because of his personal involvement in the case of Michael and Terri Schiavo. Michael Schiavo claims her wife Terri has been in a vegetative state for over a decade and told him she would not want to live in such a condition. So he's gotten permission to remove the feeding tube that's currently keeping her alive. This is against the wishes of her parents and many supporters (most of them being conservative Christians) who want to keep her alive. Because of the appeal the family made, the US house and senate passed a last minute bill to save her life and restore the feeding tube. Bush was awoken in the middle of the night to sign the bill into law. The federal and presidential involvement is causing a lot of controversy because Michael Schiavo had already won several court battles, including the Florida Supreme Court, with Terri's parents and family who are trying to keep her alive. The action taken by Bush and the federal politicians is seen as federal intervention in state authority. The United States is just that, a union of states which are each meant to have their own autonomy. Moreover, it's a legislative interference in a state judicial matter, another intervention between the three independent branches of government. While many in the Christian right have supported the move to save Terri Schindler Schiavo, both Republicans and Democrats have denounced the actions of government interference. Moreover, this much involvement int the case of a single person sets a very bad precedent for future such cases.
Ironically, this one instance of where the Bush administration has tried to sustain a person's life (whether she wanted it sustained or not) is causing more trouble for many americans than the many tens of thousands of lives his previous actions have cost.

1. Said by Bolton in 1994 a Federalist Society forum.

2. Kirkpatrick is known for having shown great arrogance towards the rest of the world.


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