|US policy under Bush is to attack or alienate. The Administration insists we will not appease or engage in diplomacy with what we identify as rogue nations. Persons classified as terrorists are to be threatened, and possibly killed. The President of the United States wishes to ensure he protects the public. Punitive measures multiply in a nation once defined as democratic.
Citizens in a country founded on the principles of equalitarianism no longer practice as they preach. Americans or the Administration ignore what is too often real; statistically, evidence shows those we know may be more dangerous. Close associates can harm "us." Those we have yet to encounter in our daily lives are not scary; they are unfamiliar. Hence, frequently, much to our own chagrin, people follow the lead of penal persons, just as we have in the United States. Today, American citizens are easily appeased, and willing to attack. We are willing to alienate our allies and all others. We spread democracy only to destroy the tenet.
People whose names, faces, customs, cultures, and skin color differs from "ours" are classified as aliens. Those who we do not speak with are considered adversaries, for "we" have not taken the time to become acquainted. "We" assume the people who are foreign to "us" are antagonistic. Americans, seem willing to dismiss the accepted wisdom; friendships are formed. Foes are those we do not know, and thus, fear.
That said, the defensive stance adopted by the paternalistic President presumes that "we" just as little children, are less learned. Therefore, we will give all our toys to another tot, or to the big-bad-boogie-man, he vehemently told "us" not to play with. The word "appeasement," as referenced in Mister Bush's speech does not speak to diplomacy, a skillful communication between countries; it connotes the giving of gifts.
Britain and France pursued a policy of appeasement in the hope that Hitler would not drag Europe into another world war. Appeasement expressed the widespread British desire to heal the wounds of World War I and to correct what many British officials regarded as the injustices of the Versailles Treaty.
Guilt motivates many a parent who realizes, in the past, they were overly punitive. A child, who chose actions that were combative and cruel may not learn to be kind, if a guardian slams and damns the young person, and then confines the lad or lass to a barren room. An adolescent starved for love, stripped of all possessions, severely reprimanded, and forced to submit reparations will not thrive. When a tot or a teen is stripped of a sense of self, as well as deprived of any dignity survival is a struggle. It is no wonder, upon reflection, the parents or persons in power were remorseful. The Versailles Treaty denied the German people all that made life whole.
This treaty held Germany solemnly responsible for WWI. Germany was forced to pay reparations totaling 132,000,000,000 in gold marks, they lost 1/8 of its land, all of its colonies, all overseas financial assets, a new map of Europe was carved out of Germany, and the German military was basically non-existent. To the German people they were being ruthlessly punished for a war not only were not responsible for but had to fight. The main terms of the
Versailles Treaty were:
(1) the surrender of all German colonies as League of Nations mandates
(2) the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France
(3) cession of Eupen-Malmedy to Belgium, Memel to Lithuania, the Hultschin district to Czechoslovakia, Poznania, parts of East Prussia and Upper Silesia to Poland
(4) Danzig to become a free city
(5) plebiscites to be held in northern Schleswig to settle the Danish-German frontier
(6) occupation and special status for the Saar under French control
(7) demilitarization and a fifteen-year occupation of the Rhineland
(8) German reparations of £6,600 million
(9) a ban on the union of Germany and Austria
(10) an acceptance of Germany's guilt in causing the war
(11) provision for the trial of the former Kaiser and other war leaders
(12) limitation of Germany's army to 100,000 men with no conscription, no tanks, no heavy artillery, no poison-gas supplies, no aircraft, and no airships
(13) the limitation of the German Navy to vessels under 100,000 tons, with no submarines
Germany signed the Versailles Treaty under protest. The USA Congress refused to ratify the treaty. Many people in France and Britain were angry that there was no trial of the Kaiser or the other war leaders.
The treaty devastated Germany politically and economically. Because of the treaty, many Germans were desperate to find a new leader to get them out of the Great Depression, which they blamed on the extravagant reparations they had to pay to the Allies.
A chastised child ultimately will not sacrifice their soul. They will rebel and revolt, as Germany did. Perhaps, Neville Chamberlain and those who chose "appeasement" overreacted as parents, or as people often do. Too often, an abusive authority figure will engage in one extreme behavior or another. Penalties and presents do help a youngster to learn. Neither deed will deliver a child from "evil." Calm, careful conversations help create a union between mother, father, and child. When Moms, Dads, or government officials love the other and self enough to empathetically listen reverent relationships grow. The same is true when we speak of nations. Negotiations are necessary if peace is to become a possibility. We do not war with those who work well with "us." Composure cultivated in conversations evokes cooperation.
Notwithstanding, the veracity that talk can educate and place a distressed child at ease, country or diplomat, Americans are asked to avoid discussion with those our "leaders" deemed dictators or terrorists. "We," the people are expected to forget, as George W. Bush expressed not too long ago. On February 13, 2006, just over two years earlier, Commander-In-Chief Bush avowed his desire to resolve disagreements with Iran in an irenic manner. The President of the United States proclaimed the potential nuclear crisis need not be a cause for confrontation. After talks in Washington with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the decisive Mister Bush said the allied leaders agreed; the issue must be solved "diplomatically by working together." However, as is evident, for persons who dominate, the definitions for "diplomacy" and "peaceful" are fluid, as is the description of democracy. Merriam-Webster offers . . .
1 a: government by the people; especially: rule of the majority
b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
2: a political unit that has a democratic government
3. capitalized: the principles and policies of the Democratic Party in the United States (from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy- C. M. Roberts)
4. the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
5. the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges
What may be thought odd is, in a nation founded on the principles of social equality, there are elite 'leaders.' These elected officials believe they must assure the common folk, it is best not to speak with our "enemies." In the United States, in practice, it seems democracy is a disciplinary dictum. The President envisions himself as a penal parent might.
Might we also muse of the contradiction? In a country of equals the race, religion, or social rank of an individual might reduce the presumed significance of a fellow citizen. Here in America, too often one neighbor is the nemesis of another. How could that be? We might ponder another paradox. If every individual is worthy, one of no more value than any other, why are there privileged people who have power over the populace? We may know not why; nonetheless, we are aware those in authority tell average Americans, 'Diplomacy would be pernicious.' The incongruity of the situation does not escape observant historians.
Academics who study the democratic system note Americans have less social equality than we like to think we do. Citizens of this country are as those in a family where retaliatory parents rule. The word "family" connotes a connection. Yet, when guardians are not caregivers and are instead castigators. "family' is but the facade.
Yet, just as in a dysfunctional home where the relatives wish to believe all is well, in this "progressive" nation, we may wish to believe the system works. Americans firmly assert the present is far better than the past was, and the future will bring greater improvements. We reassure ourselves with charts and graphs. We watch market reports and read research that validates what we wish to hold as truth.
Admittedly, the average American accepts that in this affluent and democratic nation problems persist. Income inequity has always been a constant; it remains pervasive in the States. Here, in the richest country in the world, in a nation where people are taught to believe everyone is equal, opportunities are not. Most dismiss the imbalance as temporary. Certainly, the prospect for change is plausible. Shortcomings are the effect of economic growth. Corrections will come, sooner or later. Perhaps tomorrow will bring a better day. Of course, it will. Americans know how to grow an economy. With expansion, earnings increase. People prosper, equally.
Most of "us" believe that democracy has survived each trial and tribulation, and a government of the people, as we presume ours to be, will continue to thrive. Yet; perchance, we have been persuaded to have faith as we do. Democracy is best. Nothing functions better.
This is a powerful assumption. It may be tested by reflecting upon the fact that, despite American progress, the society has been forced to endure sundry movements of protest. In our effort to address the inconvenient topic of protest, our need to be intellectually consistent -- while thinking within the framework of continuous progress -- has produced a number of explanations about the nature of dissent in America. Closely followed, these arguments are not really explanations at all, but rather the assertion of more presumptions that have the effect of defending the basic intuition about progress itself. The most common of these explanations rests upon what is perceived to be a temporary malfunction of the economic order: people protest when "times are hard." When times stop being "hard," people stop protesting and things return to "normal" -- that is to say, progress is resumed.
Unfortunately, history does not support the notion that mass protest movements develop because of hard times. Depressed economies or exploitive arrangements of power and privilege may produce lean years or even lean lifetimes for millions of people, but the historical evidence is conclusive that they do not produce mass political insurgency. The simple fact of the matter is that, in ways that affect mind and body, times have been "hard" for most humans throughout human history and for most of that period people have not been in rebellion. Indeed, traditionalists in a number of societies have often pointed in glee to this passivity, choosing to call it "apathy" and citing it as a justification for maintaining things as they are.
This apparent absence of popular vigor is traceable, however, not to apathy but to the very raw materials of history -- that complex of rules, manners, power relationships, and memories that collectively comprise what is called culture. "The masses" do not rebel in instinctive response to hard times and exploitation because they have been culturally organized by their societies not to rebel. They have, instead, been instructed in deference. Needless to say, this is the kind of social circumstance that is not readily apparent to the millions who live within it.
The lack of visible mass political activity on the part of modern industrial populations is a function of how these societies have been shaped by the various economic or political elites who fashioned them. In fundamental ways, this shaping process (which is now quite mature in America) bears directly not only upon our ability to grasp the meaning of American Populism, but our ability to understand protest generally and, most important of all, on our ability to comprehend the prerequisites for democracy itself.
Perhaps, the words of Professor Lawrence Goodwyn help to explain why Americans believe people elsewhere are complacent. In the United States, the public presumes people abroad will not create change on their own. They must be taught to do as the American Administration thinks wise. This assessment of what occurs within our homeland may expose why "we" believe democracy can be forcibly imposed on other nations. The theory Goodwyn offers helps illustrate why in a "democratic" nation the deciders dictate policy for one and for all planet wide. However, the hypothesis may not be accurate.
In other territories, protest may not have been trained out of the populace. Perchance, residents in other regions were not appeased with material goods meant to buy love and obedience? We cannot be certain for there is so little that Americans are allowed to know of the persons our power elite wish to remain estranged from "us."
Nonetheless, it seems apparent from accounts, in other parts of the globe, dissent is not defined as terrorism. Discontent is not considered destructive. The voice of the people is not pernicious. Possibly, in some places governments are not as powerful as prohibitive parents might be. Oh, those who reign may try to exert absolute rule; however, the people are less easily "appeased" or patronized.
Many a Persian person may describe a situation different from Americans trust to be true in the Middle East. Numerous would share, in Iran, were it not for America's invasive input the inhabitants may have eliminated what the United States considers evil. Indeed, Iranians were working to end the reign of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, American intervened, and all changed, for the worse.
The follies of Bush's Iran policy
By Shirin Ebadi and Muhammad Sahimi
International Herald Tribune
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The confrontation between Iran and the West has developed a new dimension over the detention of several Iranian scholars, journalists and political activists who have been living in the West for years and have recently traveled to their homeland.
What is the root cause of these events? Part of it is the deep unpopularity of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Internal opposition to his government is becoming increasingly louder as Iranians are recognizing the danger in his foreign policy and his failure to improve the economy.
In December, university students forced him to stop his speech by shouting "death to the dictator." Iran's Parliament has severely criticized him. In recent municipal elections, candidates backed by Ahmadinejad received only 4 percent of the vote.
The conservatives who rule Iran are also badly fractured. The radical faction led by Ahmadinejad is bitterly opposed to the more moderate, pragmatic faction led by former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who advocates accommodation with the West.
The recent arrests should be seen partly as a reaction to these events. Unable to address Iran's mountain of social, economical and political problems, the hard-liners are trying to create a new crisis with the West in order to distract attention from their problems.
Possibly, this scenario demonstrates that American Administrators have much in common with those they emphasize are part of an "axis of evil." The need to divert attention dominates policy among world leaders. A desire to subvert the masses moves many decision-makers, just as it drives many a punitory parent. When authority figures wish to govern, not of, by or for the people but for the love of power, they subtly and successfully suppress the sensible among us.
Engineer, and Author David Brin may have said it best, "It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power." Control is a costly endeavor. Perhaps, the price is too high for the average reasonable American, or possibly those who no longer view protest as wise, do not realize the expense is not only imprudent, it is counterproductive and detrimental to our own "Homeland Security."
Some of the $75 million has been devoted to the U.S.-funded Radio Farda, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, as well as to VOA satellite TV, which are beaming Persian programs into Iran. Other portions have been given secretly to exiled Iranian groups, political figures, and nongovernmental organizations to establish contacts with Iranian opposition groups.
But Iranian reformists believe that democracy can't be imported. It must be indigenous. They believe that the best Washington can do for democracy in Iran is to leave them alone. The fact is, no truly nationalist and democratic group will accept such funds.
According to the Algiers Accord that the United States signed with Iran in 1981 to end the hostage crisis, noninterference in Iran's domestic affairs is one of Washington's legal obligations . . .
Thus, Washington's policy of "helping" the cause of democracy in Iran has backfired. It has made it more difficult for the more moderate factions within Iran's power hierarchy to argue for an accommodation with the West . . .
The Bush administration should put an end to its misguided policy and immediately declare which organizations and public figures have received funds from the $75 million. This will make it clear that the scholars, journalists and other figures who travel to Iran have nothing to do with Bush's policy on Iran.
We can hope that one day soon, Americans will find the courage to clarify what is more insidious. The principles that currently guide American democracy are not egalitarian. In this nation, appeasement and punishment dominate the dictums. The Administration, the elites, the influential do not speak for the people; nor do they engage in diplomatic relations that might bring persons of the world together as one.
If the United States government continues to aggressively assault our "enemies' as an abusive parent might if they perceive the "stranger" as a threat, then we can expect to be attacked. Should the powers-that-be in the States invoke embargos, again the risk is, this reactive behavior will incite attack. "Appeasement" will not bring bliss. Gifts given to lessen the weight of guilt will not gratify or garner good graces. We cannot buy love; nor can we grow fondness when engaged in a feud.
Thus far, "we" the people have seen what occurs when "our' government does not act in best interests of the people here or abroad. The Iranians who seek to enrich society are correct. A democratic system cannot be instigated from the outside. Fairness grows from within. Equanimity must evolve naturally if it is to be real, effective, and everlasting.
Might Americans work to cultivate the principles we espouse and yet have never established before we attempt to shift the paradigm elsewhere. Let us find a way to make democracy doable here at home. Perchance, diplomacy will build a bridge. If only Americans talked among themselves and to each other. We must speak to "strangers." Perhaps we will discover similarities. "We" the people cannot allow ourselves to be treated as children. We must acknowledge the people who claim to protect us are our abusers. The power-elite have the authority "we," the little people give them. America, it is time to stand up. Let us not fear the foreigner. With eyes wide open, let us consider those that cause us great harm live in our house.
Democracy Described and Defined . . .
- Bush's Comments In Israel Fuel Anger, By Michael Abramowitz. Washington Post. Friday, May 16, 2008; Page A08
- Domestic Violence Statistics. An Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection. U.S. Department of Justice.
- Neville Chamberlain on Appeasement (1939) The History Guide.
- Democrats outraged by Bush "appeasement" remark, By Steve Holland. Reuters. May 15, 2008
- The Treaty of Versailles and the Impact on Germany. By Walter S. Zapotoczny. 2005
- US generals 'will quit' if Bush orders Iran attack, By Michael Smith and Sarah Baxter. Times Online. February 25, 2007
- The follies of Bush's Iran policy, By Shirin Ebadi and Muhammad Sahimi. International Herald Tribune. May 30, 2007
- The Populist Movement; A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America, By Lawrence Goodwyn. Oxford University Press. 1978