Remember the Star Trek Prime Directive of non-interference with other cultures? Our government has made a career of violating that, imposing our will on weaker states by destabilizing governments or stabilizing tyrants, assassinating elected leaders while propping up any tinhorn dictator who would advance some preferred companies' business interests.
When President Gerald Ford banned assassinations or when Jimmy Carter took the Christian step of linking our foreign aid and activities to human rights, conservatives rolled their eyes at these lotus-eaters who were ignorant of the hard truths of keeping a tumultuous world in check.
But doing unto others isn't just a flowery line in a book. It is a pragmatic truth with perilous consequences. When we as a nation flout our superior powers by not treating others as we would wish to be treated ourselves, it's no surprise that others see us as hypocritical, self-serving and unjust. When we've helped dictators crush democracy and dissent, it creates a vacuum to be filled by violent extremists. A look at foreign policy failures like Cuba, Iran, Afghanistan, Panama, Cambodia, et al. should teach us something.
But according to Bush, we'll be the one teaching the world a lesson, saying, "Our nation has been chosen by God and commissioned by history."
With such a mandate, we hardly need to ask ourselves hard questions, such as, "Are we racist?" I ask this because our readying for war made some small sense to me until I thought, "If an IRA splinter group had hijacked the planes, would we even once think of bombing Ireland to root them out of their holes?"
The people of Afghanistan have suffered under one fucked undemocratic government after another (the present one largely thanks to us). They're already starving in a drought, and now we may bomb them over something most of them have no say in. If we kill 50,000 of their innocents for our 5,000, will that be "massive and disproportionate" enough? Will their surviving relatives agree that God was on our side and not be led into hatred and martyrdom?
Tough luck. We're going to war with anyone who might harbor, support or feed terrorists. It should be easy to recognize them. Try this little quiz:
One nation's fundamentalist religious leaders declared the U.S. got what it deserved on Sept. 11, that America is a sinful nation that God will not protect from further terror, of which we've seen just the beginning. These same religious leaders helped put their government in power, and that government gives these religious leaders free rein to raise funds and spread a message of hate. Would we be right to consider that nation an enemy?
If you answered "yes," congratulations: you have just declared war on the United States.
It was Bush buddies Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who said the U.S. deserved what we got for tolerating, in Falwell's words, "the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America."
I suppose it is unchristian of me to hope that someday a smart bomb is invented that only strikes the freedom-hating assholes who think God is on their side and leaves the rest of humanity, even the feminists, to live in peace.