Washington’s Blindness and Stupidity

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Scott Horton has a good article making the case for the stupidity of Washington’s foreign interventions, as opposed to their being part of a covert plan that strengthens the empire. This stupidity is not inconsistent with the influence of various war lobbies that influence the government. The stupidity cuts across party lines and successive administrations, with a senselessness that’s stunning.

It is as if no one with any sense is at the helm, and this is part of it. Neither Bush nor Obama have had any foreign policy sense. Neither one had any experience in it. They could only surround themselves with people, likewise lacking maturity, and listen to often contradictory counsels. It takes a great deal of wisdom and maturity to be immersed in an atmosphere of rarified and distilled policy options, devised by others, and be able to control the process and then reach judgments that make sense. Bush and Obama both lack these qualities. Why would a Texas governor and an Illinois senator be expected to be able to manage foreign affairs, much less lead the way against entrenched views and interests? Their advisors and cabinet departments are driven by their own concerns of image, turf, political ambition, rivalries, face-saving, gaining of personal advantages, and playing favorites; and these advisors lack the experience too. When they do have experience, it is frequently out of date and conditioned by past events. Even now when the Syrians are disabling any possible way to use chemical weapons, an inexperienced person like Samantha Power is still sounding alarms and acting tough. Congressional grandstanding and stupidity add another dimension of their own to the tragedies that have unfolded as a result of Washington’s incompetence and grandstanding, not that Washington has ever competently run either its foreign or domestic policies. It is just that the follies of the past dozen years have been so painfully obvious and so out of step with the rhetoric being produced to support them.

Great amounts of spying and surveillance have not given rise to intelligent foreign policy decisions, simply because the decision-makers have no clear ideas about how to use the limited resources at their disposal and for what ends. Representative democracy fails to produce people wielding power who have any idea how to use it or not use it, as the case is far more likely to call for. A course or two in international relations or a law degree, taught and issued by universities with dumbed down programs, do not instill competence. Neither does the advice of experts who pretend to more knowledge than they have. Experts are actually exceedingly scarce, just as scarce as those few who have truly creative talent in any field. A government divided into branches and bureaucracies doesn’t produce checks and balances resulting in outcomes that achieve the constitutional aims. How can it? Do stupidity and venality somehow cancel stupidity and venality? Or do they smother truth and intelligence? Experience shows that the system produces stupidity and irrationality as measured against the aims in the constitution’s preamble, which themselves have almost no overlap with the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness expressed in the Declaration.

It is ludicrous for America’s political class to lecture other countries about democracy and to justify its foreign interventions by making a case for democratic government. There is no case in terms of law for democracy, none whatever. There is a case in law for the rights of individuals, and that is more than enough of a challenge to delineate, defend against the corruption of false ideas of rights, bring into acceptance and into actuality. If such a case were understood, no one could defend a “law” passed by a majority to the detriment of a minority. We would search for ways that the rights of each group were upheld. We would stop supporting the foolishness and inequities of democracy and instead look for opportunities to support the justice of rights without using means that violate them.

Presidents have lately been exceedingly fond of making a case for intervention by morally condemning foreign leaders and saying that America has the one and true morality. They do the same for domestic policies. This approach sacrifices rights at the altar of a false god, a universal morality that the government knows and wishes to enforce. There is no such morality. Right actions and wrong actions (moral actions) can only be decided by individual persons in possession of themselves and their resources who are attempting to decide what they should do and not do. Their very individuality and uniqueness of situation, resources, aims and knowledge demand this. No external agents, much less a stupid one called “government”, can replace their own individual moral actions without trampling on their rights. In order to make moral decisions, rights must come first, as they help to define the person who is making the moral decisions. A government that interferes, as with Obamacare and sundry other interventions, is simply erasing the “I” that is the person. The government’s leaders do this in the name of something moral, but they are actually destroying the very basis for a moral decision, which is the individual human being as a moral agent. The collectivism of this is beyond stupid and senseless. It is fundamentally dehumanizing.

Foreign and domestic interventions by government are thought to be right by those executing them. Bush had his “axis of evil” and Obama has his, even if he avoids the words. So do many Congressmen and others in their administrations. They think of themselves and their actions in moral terms as right. To them what they do is sensible in some sort of simple-minded moral terms, such as Saddam is a bad guy or this one gassed his own people or that one will massacre everyone. They see the faults in other societies without seeing similar faults in their own. Their stupidity is in failing to see how much worse their interventions will make matters. Their blindness is in failing to see that they themselves are collectivists who are not protecting rights but destroying them and, in the process, undermining the human beings who bear the brunt of their impositions.

6:58 pm on November 7, 2013