Friday, November 12, 2010

Glenn Beck’s Monstrous Anti-Semitism Reveals The Quality and Character of His Target

Sometimes the most malignant of intentions result in unintentional good outcomes. From the moment he took to the airwaves, Glenn Beck has been a malignant cancer on our body politic, a self-styled racist, hatemonger, and conspiracy theorist who, together with far right fringe elements, has incited disturbed listeners to commit acts of violence. All of this is true and extensively documented.

Today, the hatemonger doubled down (if that can be possible for Beck) with the most reprehensible kind of anti-Semitic Holocaust revisionism by falsely accusing liberal philanthropist George Soros, who was a 14-year-old boy in Nazi-occupied Hungary, with collaboration.

Yet Glenn Beck’s paranoid obsession with the man he calls the “puppet master,” George Soros, was revealing in another way. While George W. Bush traipsed around the country, seeking refuge mostly in the right wing echo chamber (which provides employment for Beck) in a vain book tour attempt to wipe from his name the stain of history, Glenn Beck chose as a source of his Soros sliming a talk the Hungarian-born philanthropist gave at his Open Society Institute on September 16, 2003, on foreign policy, Iraq, and America’s role going forward.

At that moment in time, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was less than six months old, by the end of September 2003 U.S. and coalition force deaths in Iraq would number 374, and four months earlier George W. Bush had declared “mission accomplished” in a triumphalist speech on the deck of the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

It would not be until 2004 that the first accounts of “physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, including torture, rape, sodomy, and homicide of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (also known as Baghdad Correctional Facility) came to public attention,” with official sanction at the highest levels of the U.S. government. In recent interviews, Bush shrugged off the torture and admitted to authorizing waterboarding with a “damn right,” secure in the knowledge he will not be prosecuted for war crimes by the Obama administration.

In response to this brazen admission, the ACLU joined other civil rights groups in calling for a special prosecutor to investigate whether the former president violated federal statutes prohibiting torture. (It’s not gonna happen; for more information, read Family of Secrets by Russ Baker. The current adminstration is sitting on a pile of dirty laundry it would just as soon keep a lid on.)

Seven years later, Bush is unrepentant about the cost of the war in blood and treasure, claiming with the certainty of the religious fanatic with a private line to God that he kept America safe. As of November 3, 2010, the number of U.S. and coalition forces killed in the line of duty in Iraq was 4,746, and the cost to the Treasury of the war has added upwards of $1 trillion to our spiraling deficit.

And yet the remarkable thing about that address by Mr. Soros back in September of 2003 (see it here) was (1) the clarity of his foresight concerning the dire consequences to the nation of the path we were on (described in raw numbers above), and (2) his inability as a private citizen to affect the ultimate outcome that we see today, or to change in any appreciable way the disastrous course Bush and Cheney had set for the country. Despite Glenn Beck’s paranoid anti-Semitic screeds about the “puppet master” George Soros, the liberal philanthropist was not pulling any strings. Quite to the contrary, he was the proverbial and prophetic “voice in the wilderness.” Here is what Mr. Soros said:

We can’t impose our will on the rest of the world, as we are now finding out at great cost in, for instance Iraq … little can be done in the way of international cooperation without American leadership.

We are now being led by people who follow a false and dangerous ideology, that is a danger to open society in this country and globally. They are normally referred to as neoconservatives, or NeoCons. I call them American supremacists, and the ideology basically holds that international relations are relations of power, and international law basically follows power — power accomplishes international law; legalizes it. Since we are very powerful, we are in a position to impose our views, our interests, our values on the rest of the world. And I think that is a very dangerous ideology.

There was the difficulty of who’s our enemy. And to start with, North Korea could serve as the enemy for the first phase. And in fact, when the President of South Korea, Kim Dae-Jung came here to get President Bush to endorse the sunshine policy, he was rebuffed because we needed North Korea out in the cold to justify the first phase of missile defense.

September 11 changed all this, because suddenly we had a real, very real, enemy. And President Bush declared war on terrorism and gained an overwhelming mandate for that war. I think, waging war is not the right way to deal with terrorism.

The terrorism was a crime against humanity and it requires being treated as a crime. It requires police action. It requires awareness, it requires information, you need to track down the terrorists and you have to deal with them, capture them, and bring them to justice. And for that you need the allegiance of the populations and the support of the populations where terrorists live.

When you wage war, you have to have an enemy that you can identify, preferably a state. And this is what has led us to pursue the war against states that are supposed to harbor terrorists, rather than pursue the terrorists themselves.

The invasion of Afghanistan was fully justified because that is where Bin Laden lived. When it came to Iraq, the connection became much more dubious, because we justified the invasion of Iraq by weapons of mass destruction that Saddam was supposed to possess, and a connection with terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.

This was necessary because the mandate that the President had was to fight terrorism. So he had to connect the invasion of Iraq with terrorism. Now I think that Saddam was a heinous dictator, and it’s wonderful to get rid of him, and there are very good reasons for moving against Saddam.

But those other reasons were not discussed at all. And, when we now did not find again any weapons of mass destruction, and the connection with Al Qeda at that time was never properly established.

We fall back on the idea that we were bringing democracy to Iraq, which I think is a highly desirable objective. But this is an activity in which I personally have been involved over the last 20 years — building democracies, open societies — and Iraq would be the last country that I would choose for a demonstration site (laughter).

The real issue that agitates me is the Bush Doctrine, which I consider a very pernicious doctrine. If you examine it, basically it is built on two pillars. One, that we will do everything to maintain our military superiority, which I think is a very worthwhile and desirable objective. And the second, that we claim the right of preemptive action. And that, if you put the two things together, you basically establish two classes of sovereignty: the sovereignty of the United States, which is not subject to any international constraints; and the sovereignty of all the other states, which is subject to the Bush Doctrine.

It’s reminiscent of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. All animals are equal, except some animals are more equal than others. And of course the Bush Doctrine is in fact buried in a lot of Orwellian doublespeak. But this is what it boils down to.

And it is a doctrine that is basically both contrary to American values, contrary to the principles of open society, and it is an unattainable goal. And it cannot possibly be accepted by the rest of the world. And in fact what has gone wrong is that the rest of the world had an allergic reaction to the Bush Doctrine.

What is happening in Iraq is demonstrating, it’s the proof that this approach of American supremacy is the false approach. The United States does occupy a dominant position in the world. But it has reached this dominance exactly by not abusing its power, but by being concerned with the opinions and interests of others, and allowing a world order, which basically assured freedom for those who sought it.

So we now have a situation where we have achieved the opposite of what we were aiming at, because not only are our soldiers endangered, but also our ability to project power has been greatly diminished because our armed forces are engaged in pursuing the role of policeman, role of occupation, whereas that has never been the strength of our military forces, its always been to project power to bring overwhelming force to bear and now we are bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq. So I think that this is now the moment of truth, that we can see that this is a very dangerous approach, and we need a different one.

On Republicans: one of the structural weaknesses of our democracy today is that the Republican Party has been captured by extremist forces, and the moderate Republican is an endangered species. What we need most of all is actually the revival of a moderate Republican Party, a better balance in the Republican Party. I would say that I could well be a moderate Republican myself.

The NeoCons: I think that there is a lack of understanding of the first principles of an open society, namely that we may be wrong, that democratic values are not necessarily American values, that if you liberate the Iraqis from Saddam’s oppression it doesn’t mean that they will have a pro-American government, unless you impose it on them send in some émigré who is closely allied with the Defense Department.

Bush’s “Cowboy Diplomacy”: By going it alone and imposing our will and riding roughshod over the opinion of the rest of the world we are disqualifying ourselves from playing [an active role as part of the international community] and the failure of the policy may well lead the American public to want to withdraw. We’ve always been flirting with isolationism so this is what I’m really concerned with; that by going about it the wrong way we are destroying our chances of being a constructive leader of the world.

Civil Rights: The first step is for us to recognize that we are going in the wrong direction. September 11 was such a traumatic experience, it has been exploited by the administration posturing here and maintaining that everything has changed after 9-11, that standards of behavior that previously were not acceptable have become acceptable because this is an emergency and we are threatened in our very existence. This is where we are endangering our position in an open society.

Iraq: we are at the moment of truth. I draw a parallel between what is happening to a stock market bubble. A stock market bubble has always a basis in reality but then there is a misconception that carries it far from equilibrium grounds. The reality is that we are in fact the dominant power in the world. The misconception is that we ought to use that dominance to further our dominance and to impose our will on the world, whereas in fact we have become dominant exactly by not using it in that way.

And so we have gone off the rail, we have gone from normal conditions to abnormal conditions. And September 11 played a very important role in getting us into that state. And I think September 11 has been misused by our leadership to lead us in a direction that they wanted to take the country.

Human Rights: The Patriot act really deprives us from the high moral ground that we had before in advocating human rights abroad. It has weakened our position because the other regimes that defend themselves by dubious means can rightfully claim that they are doing it to defend themselves. So if we are now abandoning our standards, we are weakening our case, our standing for advocating human rights abroad. It’s a very sad outcome.

The Media Inhibiting Awareness: That’s actually one of the remarkable aspects of the current situation, because we do have freedom of speech and we do have a diverse media, and it has been a great surprise to me how the media have been carried on a wave of patriotism to suspend their critical role that they ought to be playing in an open society. I think balance is sort of coming back, and we do have diverse media, and I think we can see the sea change now since we got mired in this Iraqi quagmire.

The UN and International Institutions: The UN is a very useful institution, but it has its own limitations because it is an association of sovereign states, and sovereign states generally look after what they consider their national interest rather than looking after the common interest. So when I advocate international cooperation, I don’t necessarily mean that it has to be within the confines of the UN.

I would advocate forming a community of democracies, let’s say, form a caucus within the UN among other institutions and, instead of the group of 77, you would have a caucus of democracies, which would effectively form a majority and would ensure that nondemocratic countries are not elected to the Security Council, that the Human Rights Commission is not headed by Libya, and so on. So I think that there is room for improving the way the UN functions.

The Role of Business: Business is conducted for profit. The first obligation of the manager of a business is to produce profits. And therefore you can’t look to the business community to solve the problems of the world. There are some very decent businessmen, but they are limited by what they can do because of their responsibility to the shareholders, and if they don’t fulfill that obligation they’ll be kicked out from the management of the company. So while enlightened businessmen can make a contribution, the idea that you can leave it to business, or you can leave it to markets to take care of the collective interests, I think is an idle dream.

On Reversing Course: I think that just as in a bubble you have a moment of truth and afterwards you have a twilight area where you still go on, but you lose the conviction and the forward drive. And then you reverse course. I think that this is the moment of truth and I think that the people, we are living in a democracy, this is an open society, we can speak out, and I think people will listen and will draw their conclusion from it, and there will be a reversal. I’m very hopeful on that.

Eventually the TRUTH will out, Mr. Beck.

No comments: