Monday, February 09, 2004

Moral Absolutism

Here are some excerpts from a New York Times editorial about BeelzaTim's interview with Shrub--the link is courtesy of Today in Iraq:

Yesterday, in an interview with NBC's Tim Russert, after a week in which it became obvious to most Americans that the justifications for the war were based on flawed intelligence, Mr. Bush offered his reflections, and they were far from reassuring. The only clarity in the president's vision appears to be his own perfect sense of self-justification


Average Americans are also asking themselves whether invading Iraq would have seemed like the right decision if we knew then what we know now. Mr. Bush doesn't seem willing to even take on this critical question. He repeatedly referred to Saddam Hussein as a dangerous madman, without defining the threat that even a madman, without any weapons of mass destruction, posed to the United States. At one point, his reasoning seemed to be that even if the dictator did not have the feared weapons, he could have started manufacturing them on a moment's notice. To bolster his position, he cited David Kay, the American weapons inspector, as reporting that "Saddam Hussein was dangerous with the ability to make weapons." In fact, Mr. Kay said that Iraq's weapons program seemed to have ground to a halt under the pressure of the United Nations inspections and sanctions that Mr. Bush and his staff disdained last year. Mr. Kay said Saddam Hussein retained only the basic ability to restart weapons programs if that pressure were removed.

At other times, the president seemed to argue that the invasion was necessary simply to demonstrate that Americans did not back down from a fight. "In my judgment, when the United States says there will be serious consequences, and if there isn't serious consequences, it creates adverse consequences," he said. Although Mr. Bush tried to portray himself as a man who exhausted every peaceful solution, the "serious consequences" were threatened in a United Nations resolution in late 2002 that Mr. Bush was forced to seek to mollify nervous allies after the decision to have a war was essentially made.

Mr. Bush's explanation of how he reconciled the current activities in Iraq with his 2000 campaign rejection of "nation building" was simply silly. (American troops are building a nation in Iraq, he said, but they are also "fighting a war so that they can build a nation.") And it's very hard to take seriously Mr. Bush's contention that he was not surprised by the intensity of the resistance in Iraq.

The president was doing far more yesterday than rolling out the administration's spin for the next campaign. He was demonstrating how he is likely to think if confronted with a similar crisis in the future. The fuzziness and inconsistency of his comments suggest he is still relying on his own moral absolutism, that in a dangerous world the critical thing is to act decisively, and worry about connecting the dots later.

Meanwhile, on 60 Minutes, CBS pointed to a dramatic increase in the number of people who call themselves Evangelical Christians--people who literally believe in the Apocalypse, the Rapture, and that such destruction will happen soon:

An estimated 70 million Americans call themselves evangelicals, and their beliefs have already reshaped American politics. In the last election, 40 percent of the votes for George W. Bush came from their ranks, and now those beliefs are beginning to reshape the culture as well -- thanks to a group of best-selling novels known as the “Left Behind” series.


These are heady times for evangelicals: an election year, with one of their own in the White House, the final book in the “Left Behind” series to be published in March, and, of course, always the chance, even hope, of that greatest of events, the Rapture.

And, finally, again from Today in Iraq, a link to Jerry Falwell, the man who said the September 11th attacks were god's punishment for gays--not surprisingly, there's something about a war that makes him tingle all over:

If one depends on the Bible as a guidepost for living, it is readily apparent that war is sometimes a necessary option. In fact, just as there are numerous references to peace in the Bible, there are frequent references to God-ordained war.

The evangelical right is doing their level best to self-fulfill their perverse prophesies, if you ask me. As I noted last week, they're able to do so by entering into an unholy alliance with racists--unsurprising--and Wall Streeters, of all people. I think someone better wake up the business folks and let them know that while war can be good for the bottom line, it comes at a pretty steep price--especially when you consider that there are non-war options that are also good for the bottom line.

It's time we told the Bible thumpers to keep their fantasies in the realm of metaphysics...

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