Moral Confusion in the New American Century
Is Iraq first on a list?
March 26, 2003
"When you've got the power, you don't need permission"Those who follow this column know that I saw the Iraqi crisis as a continuing war in which terms of cease-fire had been egregiously violated. This perspective made an escalation of hostilities a possible ethical response. Accordingly, I thought that President Bush gave a pretty good speech when he told Saddam and sons they had 48 hours "to get out of Dodge." While I wasn't cheering, you could faintly hear the sound of one hand clapping.
That reason for attacking still holds, and I am glad that the military campaign is successful to this point (March 23). But you won't hear any more applause from me. Since the President's speech I have read "The Statement of Principles of the Project for a New American Century." It is relevant to Operation IraqiFreedom because, of the 25 who signed it in 1997,
In The Statement of Principles they have put on record their conviction that the global leadership of the United includes a moral obligation to shape the world in its own image. This is for the world¡¦s own good, of course, provided we further our own interests in the process. It made me afraid that Iraq is not a special case, but first on a list. The Statement puts it like this.
It goes on to claim moral clarity for the above goals, There is no moral clarity, however, in laying conflicting interests side by side and then claiming a equal devotion to both; specifically, claiming a commitment to political and economic freedom abroad, then trumping it with an assertion of goals of security and prosperity for yourselves. That is called "talking out of both sides of your mouth" — an announcement to the world that you can't be trusted. Guess which will prevail when economic and political freedom abroad conflict with security, prosperity, and principles at home. You will need just one guess.
If we believe in economic and political freedom abroad, we believe in it, period. Such freedom includes the freedom of other nations not to follow our lead. If we don't believe in it, then it's fatuous, cynical, or just plain devious to suggest that we do.
In this case, as smart as these guys are, I hope they are being fatuous. Fatuity is morally superior to cynicism and deceit; it is also less likely to mean that Iraq is first on a list of projects for a new American century.
About the Author:
Barnabas feels in Wonderland right now. Does our foreign policy really rest on the doubtful shoulders of the new American century?
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