I haven't talked about Molly Ivins
in a while; there usually seems little point.
But her latest column needs to be refuted, and we here in the Empire strongly believe that when you see something that needs doing, you do it. So...let's look at what Molly says, and how divergent from reality it is:
No. This is not acceptable. This is not the country we want to be. This is not the world we want to make.
Molly's referring to the recently published National Security Strategy. And she's wrong. It's not the country she
wants the nited States to be, or the world she
wants to make.
And of course, the very humility and cooperation she so loves is undermined by her own words: "the world we want to make."
The United States of America is still run by its citizens. The government works for us. Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world. We want and need to work with other nations. We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood.
We are not dominating the world, and the new strategy document does not call for that. It calls for us to remain the strongest power; given the alternatives out there, the other candidates who might challenge us in that regard, surely even Molly can see that it's preferable, both for us, and for everyone else, that we do remain so.
And we do want other solutions than killing people. Unfortunately, those solutions have not worked in Iraq; and they did not prevent 3,000 of our citizens from being murdered in cold blood.
I rarely use the word we because it's so arrogant for one citizen to presume to speak for all of us -- and besides, Americans famously can't agree on the time of day. But on this one, I know we want to find a way so that killing is the last resort, not the first. We would rather put our time, energy, money and even blood into making peace than making war.
It takes two to make peace, Molly. If our foes don't want to - and certainly our foes in the Middle East have made it abundantly clear that they don't, then the choice is not between war and peace, but between war on our terms that will minimize the harm to us and war on their terms that will maximize it.
"The National Security Strategy of the United States -- 2002" is repellent, unnecessary and, above all, impractical. Americans are famous for pragmatism, and we need a good dose of common sense right now. This Will Not Work.
And why not?
All the experts tell us that anti-Americanism thrives on the perception that we are arrogant, that we care nothing for what the rest of the world thinks. Even our innocent mistakes are often blamed on obnoxious triumphalism. The announced plan of this administration for world domination reinforces every paranoid, anti-American prejudice on this earth. This plan is guaranteed to produce more terrorists.
We do care what the world thinks. But we should - as this plan does - care more
about what is in our best interest, when the two conflict. It's unfortunate that you don't understand that, Molly.
Even if this country were to become some insane, 21st-century version of Sparta -- armed to the teeth, guards on every foot of our borders -- we would still not be safe. Have the Israelis been able to stop terrorism with their tactics?
First, no one is proposing this. Second, as much as you or anyone else might not lie Israel's tactics, they have been very, very restrained in comparison to (1) what they could be doing, (2) what their enemies are doing, and (3) what their enemies would
do if they had the capability to. And that's why they are not succeeding, Molly.
They tried your way and got an Intifada and hundreds of dead women and children. Thanks so much for your input, but we'll stick to listening to the grown-ups from now on.
Not only would we not be safe -- we would not have a nickel left for schools or health care or roads or parks or zoos or gardens or universities or mass transit or senior centers or the arts or anything resembling civilization. This is nuts.
nuts, and had that been what was proposed, you'd be right and I'd be right there with you, Molly. But it's not, and you're not, and so I'm not. Sorry.
This creepy, un-American document has a pedigree going back to Bush I, when -- surprise! -- Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz were at the Department of Defense and both were such geniuses that they not only didn't see the collapse of the Soviet Union coming, but they didn't believe it after they saw it.
But it's also true that their job was - and is - to ensure the security of the American people. And while I'd prefer that they had perfect knowledge and knew the exact nature and danger level of every threat and adversary out there, they don't, and no one can. In the absence of that, I'd much prefer them to be overly worried and overestimate danger rather than underestimate it.
In those days, this plan for permanent imperial adventurism was called "Defense Strategy for the 1990s" and was supposed to be a definitive response to the Soviet threat. Then the Soviet threat disappeared, and the same plan re-emerged as a response to the post-Soviet world.
"imperial adventurism"? Nowhere is that claimed or contemplated, Molly. That's flat-out dishonset.
It was roundly criticized at the time, its manifest weaknesses attacked by both right and left. Now it is back yet again as the answer to post-Sept. 11. Sort of like the selling of the Bush tax cut -- needed in surplus, needed in deficit, needed for rain and shine -- the plan exists apart from rationale. As Frances Fitzgerald points out in the Sept. 26 New York Review of Books, its most curious feature is the combination of triumphalism and almost unmitigated pessimism.
Oh, yes, Frances Fitzgerald is an objective source.
Until Friday, when the thing was re-released in its new incarnation, it contained no positive goals for American foreign policy -- not one. Now the plan is tricked out with rhetoric like earrings on a pig about extending freedom, democracy and prosperity to the world. But as The New York Times said, "It sounds more like a pronouncement that the Roman Empire or Napoleon might have produced."
Well, howell Raines' playtoy is also hardly an objective source of new on the world these days. But in any case, we could certainly do worse than to emulate a civilization that lasted (depending on how you want to count it) over a thousand years, and brought civilization to the entire known world.
In what is indeed a dangerous and uncertain world, we need the cooperation of other nations as never before. Under this doctrine, we claim the right to first-strike use of nuclear weapons and "unannounced pre-emptive strikes." That means surprise attacks.
We have always had a policy of first use of nuclear weapons if it was necesasary.
And surprise attacks that might prevent another 3,000 dead American civillians sure sound like a good idea to me.
There is a better way. Foreign policy experts polled at the end of the 20th century agreed that the great triumph of the past 100 years in foreign policy was the Marshall Plan. We can use our strength to promote our interests through diplomacy, economic diplomacy, multilateral institutions (which we dominate anyway) and free trade conditioned to benefit all.
I thought you didn't like free trade and these multinational institutions, Molly?
And which experts were these? Any citations?
None of this will make the al Qaeda folks love us, but it will make it a lot more likely that whoever finds them will hand them over.
Why, exactly? Because we give them money? We give Egypt and Saudi Arabia billions of dollars a year, and they loathe us.
This reckless, hateful and ineffective approach to the rest of the world has glaring weaknesses. It announces that we intend to go in and take out everybody else's nukes (27 countries have them) whenever we feel like it. Meanwhile, we're doing virtually nothing to stop their spread.
27 countries? Where does she get this number from?
As far as I know, there are the U.S., Russia, China, the UK, France, India, and Pakistan as "official" members of the nuclear club. That's seven. Israel has them, although they've never come out and said so. That's eight. South Africa claims to have dismantled all their nuclear weapons, but let's count them anyway. Nine. And North Korea is believed to maybe or maybe not have a handful of bombs. Ten. All the former Soviet republics have given up their nukes, I believe.
So what are the other 17 countries that have them, Molly?
Last month, Ted Turner's Nuclear Threat Initiative had to pony up $5 million to get poorly secured, weapons-grade uranium out of Belgrade. Privatizing disarmament -- why didn't we think of that before?
The final absurdity is that the plan is supposed to Stop Change. Does no one in the administration read history?
It is not supposed to "stop change". It is supposed to take change into account, and to ensure our security in spite of change that could threaten it.
But Molly doesn't really care about that. I'm not sure what eactly it is that she does care about, but I do know that I'm not willing to see my life or the lives of my fellow citizens gambled on whatever it is that she thinks we should be doing.