Friday, March 22, 2013

Lesson Not Learned

Much as Americans, particularly of the teabagging variety, love to assume the mantle of our Founding Fathers, it would seem neither they nor our leaders give much credence to what they actually said. (And, when they do, as in Jefferson's "blood of patriots" aphorism, they misconstrue it.) A case in point: words of John Quincy Adams, a founder if ever there was:

And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world, the first observers of nutation and aberration, the discoverers of maddening ether and invisible planets, the inventors of Congreve rockets and Shrapnel shells, should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind? Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. 
America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. 
She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. 
But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. 
The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.... She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.... 
[America's] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.
It is, of course, the precise opposite of the Cheney/Bush doctrine, and exactly what I've written here (because it's so obvious that even one such as I can get it), many times. The aforementioned destructive duo, au contraire, and the neocons and all others of the "America fuck yeah" variety, think our greatest influence and security reside in being the tough guy first. In reality, our greatest security and effect on the rest of the world lies in living up to our standards at home. Protecting our own democracy. Treating our own citizens well. Making the example of effective democracy and generous capitalism known to the world. Yeah. Look at the priorities of the R budget just approved by House Rs, and it's clear as the pre-industrial skies that they don't have a clue about such things. The greater the disaster, be it the latest wars or the results of their budget as played out under George W. Bush, the more they want to do it all over again.

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