Wrong Ideas Are Sinking America
Michael S. Rozeff
by Michael S. Rozeff: Get
Off the Road to War: Stop the Sanctions on Iran
of America’s leaders are deeply ingrained. They have been recruited
and made leaders because they have those beliefs and hold them quite
inflexibly. For example, American leaders believe in making wars
conducted by the state, including such military wars as Vietnam,
Iraq and Afghanistan, and such social wars as the war on drugs and
the war on poverty. In this belief, America’s leaders are supported
by large numbers of Americans, enough so that they can institute
and carry on these wars.
entail the suspension of ordinary morality. They are viewed as extraordinary
events in which ordinary people don uniforms, take up arms, fly
airplanes, launch bombs, throw grenades and routinely kill other
people without fear of punishment. War is supposedly a case when
the ends justify nasty and immoral means. By creating the appearance
of wars or semi-wars or crusades against drugs, poverty, terror,
discrimination, obesity and diseases, to name a few causes, the
same kind of suspension of morality can be invoked. The leaders
make it seem "all right" to suspend people’s rights and
to force them to do what they want.
Look at what
the war on terror has done in this respect. It now is supposed to
be all right to detain suspects, torture them, hide them away in
prisons in foreign countries without charges, trials or due process
of law. The President is taken to be doing the right thing by assassinating
whom he wants to or arresting whom he wants to, even if they are
Americans, and if only he suspects them of terrorist wrongdoing.
The TSA is allowed to assault travelers sexually. Travelers are
forced to pass through x-ray machines. Police have become militarized.
Searches and seizures face vanishing barriers. Probable cause is
a memory. Border crossings are no longer routine.
And all of
this and more are things that America’s leaders want us to think
are right. Well, they are not. They are wrong. They are as wrong
as the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. They are as wrong as
every one of the social wars instituted by the U.S. government.
All of them violate rights. All of them violate any decent morality.
All of them are pragmatically wrong as well.
By now it is
or should be obvious that all of these wars, without exception,
have been and still are losing propositions for America. This is
beyond debate, but neither Democrat nor Republican partisans, who
criticize the policies of their opponents, admit that their particular
hobby-horses are failures. Both sides are always ready to tinker
around the edges with a government program or add to it, but neither
side presents radical criticism of longstanding assumptions and
institutions. Meanwhile, the American people are largely fast asleep
at the wheel. They present no systematic resistance to the immoralities
of their state and empire.
failure of their wars does not sway America’s leaders, who are now
prepared to start an aggressive war on Iran. The very concept of
such a war is wrong. The policy of domination of Iran that goes
back well over 50 years is wrong. It should be replaced, but this
is not obvious to America’s leaders because they have been taught
otherwise and have taken power while firmly believing the opposite.
A notable exception occurred when Nixon went to China.
gone to Iran. He completely failed to follow up on his 2009 "new
beginning" speech in which he mentioned a sound basis from
which to proceed with Iran, namely, "mutual respect".
He and his appointees instead followed through with the very threats
that he said at that time wouldn’t work: "This process will
not be advanced by threats." Is it any wonder the Iranians
In making all
of its wars, military and social, the American leadership regards
people as mere names and numbers, mere parts of a social puzzle
that can be moved around and manipulated at their will. This is
a wrong idea in practice and it is a wrong idea morally. It is at
root immoral, since it is anti-person and anti-humanity. America’s
leaders do not see their wars in that way.
believe in their own power and superiority, and this implies that
they believe in the powerlessness and inferiority of the masses
in America. A fortiori, they regard foreign states and their peoples
as inferior and objects to be manipulated. These ideas are also
wrong morally and practically. There is literally nothing that endows
America’s leaders with an inherent superiority that justifies treating
others as inferiors. Their power doesn’t make them superior. A robber
who points a big gun at one’s head has power, but that doesn’t make
him better or superior. His aggression in fact makes him morally
suspect. Nor does the decision to pursue or attain power make one
superior any more than does the decision to become a robber. Treating
others as fodder for American bombs or as political or economic
pawns that are subject to threats and manipulation is bound to backfire
in the long run.
believe in their ability to achieve their ends, and they believe
in the rightness of their having the power to choose and shape these
ends. These too are erroneous ideas. Anyone but them can see easily
that their wars have been failures for mankind. Had they been successful
as leaders, these wars would have not occurred. They would not even
have been regarded, even mistakenly regarded, as needed.
It is surely
not right to believe that one or a few persons should have the power
as leaders to choose the ends of everyone else or the power to shape
those ends. Such an idea is obviously directly at odds with the
idea of liberty for every person.
All of these
wrong-headed ideas and beliefs of the American leadership are more
and more clashing with reality. The false and immoral beliefs outlined
above when put into practice are bankrupting the nation, causing
misery and retarding the progress of Americans. More and more it
is evident, even to the true believing leaders, that something is
rotten in their empire. Some see the light and abandon their unworkable
ideas. They leave government. Others remain but become cynical.
Others retain their statist faith but are unsure what the sources
of the rot are. They keep up the heart and soul of their failing
philosophy of power while making cosmetic changes. They continue
to repeat the past errors. They even redouble their failing efforts
out of the erroneous belief that others before them just didn’t
try hard enough.
to understand that there are educational and media institutions
in place that support the state and empire by continually raising
new crops of leaders who keep up these false beliefs and wrong ideas.
class of American youth have been taught that Americans may kill
other peoples to achieve American political aims and that this is
good, for other peoples are children or savages or inept or ignorant
or inferior, while the American ways are superior. Americans have
in the past imagined themselves the reluctant killers and victors,
without the aims of conquest of past civilizations. They have imagined
themselves as the kind, generous, and beneficent empire while not
counting those whom they have murdered. For America is good. It
has a big heart. It may make mistakes, but its intent is noble.
It has a good heart. These have been the myths cultivated in the
breeding grounds of those who man the machinery of empire.
intentions and false ideas are coming more and more out into the
open. The reluctance to kill is disappearing. How many Americans
joke about "nuking" other peoples? In the 2007 movie "In
the Valley of Elah," one young soldier back from Iraq has
know Mike, he loved the army. Couldn’t wait to get there, save
the good guys and hurt the bad guys.
shouldn’t send heroes to places like Iraq.
there’s f****d up.
I went, I’d never say this, but you ask me now...they should just
nuke it and watch it all turn back to dust."
a naive belief in American superiority and a belief that it was
right to invade Iraq as if the invasion were some kind of heroic
rescue operation. It also captures the psychology of blaming the
victims and wanting to nuke them. Get them out of one’s mind. Remove
the burden of having lived through war’s horrors and not having
Vance quotes from the deadliest American sniper in Iraq:
despicable evil. That's what we were fighting in Iraq. That's
why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy ‘savages.’
There really was no other way to describe what we encountered
there. People ask me all the time, ‘How many people have you killed?’
My standard response is, ‘Does the answer make me less, or more,
of a man?’ The number is not important to me. I only wish I had
killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the
world is a better place without savages out there taking American
lives. Everyone I shot in Iraq was trying to harm Americans or
Iraqis loyal to the new government."
believes in his right to kill, under the American flag, even if
uninvited to a foreign land. He believes in the rightness of the
American presence and cause, and therefore if someone is trying
to kill Americans in Iraq, to him they must be evil savages. And
he believes the converse as well. Since they are savages, we have
a right to fight and kill them. The sniper’s account is valuable.
It expresses openly a few of the hidden immoral presumptions of
American leaders. It expresses the hidden beliefs of a great many
Americans who, with their leaders, usually hide them.
of Americans have been schooled in myths that have subverted mankind’s
moral knowledge and replaced it with a devotion to the state and
to empire, all the while proclaiming that Americans were doing God’s
work. A system was erected by which youths were selected who were
the most willing and able supporters of state and empire. Internships
were granted as were scholarships and fellowships. Universities
were funded to act as ways to filter and credential those willing
to support the state. Military service became one route to election.
The myth of public service was cultivated. Military service was
made out to be attractive to young men (and women) with the requisite
A deep belief
in the goodness of the state and of government was inculcated. A
deep distrust of the masses and of freedom naturally accompanied
A system of
ensuring the continuity of the empire and its guiding myths was
built up. Now centered in Washington, D.C. but with tentacles that
reach deeply into every major university and into a ring of centers,
foundations, think tanks and the like, America raises up generation
after generation of men and women of empire. The moral influences
from other sources are dwarfed by the devotion of these cadres to
their careers and to state and empire. While there are numerous
cynics among them, many of them believe in the goodness and rightness
of their chosen course. This is what allows them to be part of the
machinery within which they pay others mercilessly to murder foreign
peoples when they decide to. This belief in their own rightness
and goodness is what allows them to cloak their deep immorality
in the language of the morality that they have rejected and that
is absent from their hearts, having been extinguished by long years
of the opposite training.
By no accident,
America is a ship headed for the rocks. This course has been built
into America and Americans for many years. Entire generations have
been born and bred to man the government that is steering the ship
to its final collision. Generations of Americans have been born
and bred to accept state and empire.
charted this course for America many decades before 9/11. For years
the seas looked calm and the winds favorable. Most Americans were
blind to the collision course, supported it and applauded it. Even
as large an event as the Vietnam War did not cure the blindness.
Economic woes have not cured it. An event like 9/11 made matters
worse. Far from being a warning beacon to change course, 9/11 has
been a Siren luring America to its destruction. In one of the worst
decades for liberty in American history, Americans turned to aggressive
wars, to more and more intense monetary and economic manipulations,
to new forms of welfare, and to the destruction of the Bill of Rights.
The ship is being torn apart on reefs and draws closer to the jagged
rocks that threaten to sink it altogether.
are now bringing America again to the brink of a new war, with Iran
The two options
regarding Iran are now and always have been the same: develop peaceful
relations based on mutual respect, live and let live, peace, neutrality
and non-interference; or else attempt to control and dominate Iran
for the U.S.’s own ends.
Option 2 is
the empire’s option of choice. It is an option consistent with its
immorality, self-righteous attitudes and long held assumptions.
1 means a comprehensive settlement of the issues relating to Israel.
The U.S. keeps rejecting offers to negotiate such a settlement,
not only because the U.S. prefers power plays, but also because
U.S. foreign policy is catering to Israel in important respects,
and any such settlement will have to settle thorny issues such as
and character" of the state of Israel that Israel’s leaders
prefer to avoid. They’d have to give up something in order to get
some of the things they want.
is the responsibility of all those states that participated in Israel’s
creation, those peoples who have been most affected by it, and those
that have a stake in the region to settle these issues by negotiation.
For the U.S. (or Israel) to go to war with Iran partly as an indirect
result of failing to confront the issues is both morally wrong and
irresponsible, being unresponsive to the underlying problem, which
is the nature of Israel and its relations with its neighbors.
The wrong ideas
of America’s leaders got us to this point, and now, if these ideas
do not change or if Americans do not rise up and stop them from
being put into practice, the leaders are going to pursue them to
their logical and destructive end. A disaster for America and Americans
looms directly ahead because a military attack on Iran opens up
all kinds of unpredictable consequences, some of which could last
for another 100 years. This is no way to build a constructive world.
S. Rozeff [send him mail]
is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.
He is the author of the free e-book Essays
on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book
The U.S. Constitution
and Money: Corruption and Decline.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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