Mormons on the Walls of Fortress America

I was until very recently interviewing for a position with the CIA. (Pauses. Looks over right shoulder. Looks over left shoulder. Waits. Braces for a bullet to the temple.)

Now, there were a variety of reasons behind my decision not to continue interviewing with them — a decision I regret whenever I watch “24” and contemplate the fact that I will most likely never use a shoulder-fired missile — but chief among them was my concern that I would either be asked to do things I found morally objectionable or, perhaps more likely, that I would be unwittingly contributing to an end that I would find morally objectionable (if you’ve seen Good Will Hunting, there’s a great scene that summarizes this concern).

Now, I know a lot of Mormons work for the defense and intelligence agencies, and I’m not condemning them or anyone else. I was faced with a decision and chose the course I felt was right and in my best interest (and I’d be lying if I said money didn’t play a huge part in my decision). But the process of making this choice gave me cause to reflect in a personal way on our duties as citizens and Mormons with regard to the way our government and its representatives conduct themselves as they craft and pursue foreign policy and practice espionage. I refer to the men and women of the military, the intelligence services, the diplomatic corps, and our elected and appointed leaders — in short, those who stand watch on the walls of Fortress America, hereafter referred to as the Watchmen.

This is how I percieve the reality of the relationship between the average American and the Watchmen: The vast majority of Americans are wrapped up in the details of daily life — work, family, church, etc. They are accustomed to a high level of wealth and consumption, and they are at best vaguely aware that the rest of the world doesn’t enjoy the same lifestyle. Although Americans are not without problems, they do not generally worry about being ethnically cleansed, having their country invaded by a foreign power, being blown up by a suicide bomber, starving to death, being taken in the night by secret police, or any of the other isses confronted by citizens of other nations.

The absence of these problems is in large part due to the Watchmen; they are charged with ensuring that Americans are able to lead quiet, productive, prosperous lives, sheltered from the storms that whirl about in the rest of the world. They are brave, self-sacrificing, and underappreciated.

They have also on many occasions done things that I believe are gravely immoral. They use violence, deception, blackmail, and all manner of secret combinations against the percieved enemies of America, often harming innocent bystanders. They entrap and use people as assets and then discard them, often ruining their lives. They have propped up atrocious dictatorships and overthrown democratically elected leaders. And so on. I do not believe that America is the root of all evil in the world; far from it. But you’re kidding yourself if you believe our history is free from stain, particularly in the way we have conducted ourselves abroad. The fact of the matter is that The Watchmen have used awful means to obtain ends they percieved to be in the best interest of America and its citizens.

Now, it’s a rough and tumble world. I know this. Those who seek to harm the US and its citizens aren’t abiding by the rules set forth by the Marquess of Queensberry. If your ultimate duty is to your country and fellow citizens, then you are justified in using all available means necessary to counter your enemies. Of course, as Mormons, our ultimate duty is to God, not country. Yes, we believe, as the 12th Article of Faith asserts, in obeying the law and being subject to our rulers. I firmly believe, though, that in the event that the laws of God and the laws of man are mutually exclusive that, as Mormons, our duty is to the laws of God.

I also believe that such an event is likely when one is working for the CIA. So, I took a pass. Which exposes me to the criticism that I’m willing to enjoy the benefits provided by the CIA, the military, and the diplomats while disdaining their methods of bringing about those benefits. I think this criticism is legitimate (and is justifiably leveled at those universities that refuse to allow the ROTC on their campuses). I’m not sure how to resolve this paradox, and I’m interested in what your thoughts are. A few points for discussion:

1. Do you agree/disagree with my contention that it’s possible for the laws of man and the laws of God to be mutually exclusive?

2. If you agreed in #1, do you agree/disagree with my assertion that in such an event that, as Mormons, our duty is to obey the laws of God?

3. Do you believe it’s possible and/or probable that by working in the military, the intelligence agencies, or the foreign policy establishment you would confront a situation where the laws of God and those of man are mutually exclusive? How would you react?

4. If the possibility of those situations keeps you out of those lines of work, how do you justify enjoying the benefits brought about by others in those professions?

5. What general principles would you follow for remaining true to the laws of God while pursuing the interests of your country in a nasty, brutish world?

6. To what extent are we responsible for the actions of the Watchmen, including those carried out in secret?

Any other related thoughts are welcome.

95 thoughts on “Mormons on the Walls of Fortress America

  1. 1. Agree
    2. Agree
    3. Its probable, as I would never be working for these orgs I would never be in that situation. If for some reason I was, and obeying the laws of God and keeping my integrity required so far as to, say commit tresason, I would commit treason. in a heartbeat.
    4. I dont justify. I had never heard this rationale that if you dont participate in law enforcement or natl security you should feel guilty for enjoying its benefits. This makes no sense whatsoever. We pay taxes, does that not entitle us to said benefits? Should every US citizen at some point join up with the Police force or something? crazy talk. (I’ll save my rant on the evil CIA for some other time, bravo for not joining!!)

  2. 1. Agree
    2. Agree
    3. You can only plan to act in a certain way, and that usually works. My plan is to keep the commandments on whatever circumstances, but then again not sure how much integrity I really have until confronted with those situations.
    4. what do you define as the ‘Benefits’ of those compromised? I have no problem with enjoying said ‘benefits’ as they are choosing to live that way, i am in no way interfering with what they are doing and simply saying that I reap the benefits because of bad acts does not mean in any way I support what or how they are doing what they are doing — kind of the innocent bystander idea. I reaped the benefits of the resurrection without even being on this earth, why should i complain or worry too much about that?
    5. Has to be faith, simply put. Probably why you chose, in the end, not to pursue this compromising career. Aren’t you really asking in some way, “Do the ends justify the means?” Some wars would seem to suggest that and some Book of Mormon scriptures seem to support ‘strategies’ as a way of defending your values. In fact, didn’t Teancum kill Amalickiah by ‘strategy’ and he was hailed a hero and true to cause of freedom and liberty?
    6. I don’t think we are responsible at all just because we reap the benefits of their actions. Some people have made decisions without consulting us to act in certain ways under certain circumstances, and so how are we responsible in any way for these actions or decisions? That’s like saying because my brother stole from the store, I am at fault, but in reality, not at all. Are you not asking, are we accomplices to crime by benefitting from them? No, I don’t think so, nor ever will I take responsibility for this sort of thing!

  3. …my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. – Col. Nathan Jessup played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men

    Can a person be both a soldier, spy, and a Man or Woman of God? If I may be so bold, I’d like to cite the example of Captain Moroni. I submit to you he was one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the Book of Mormon. That said, he fought many battles and won most of them.

    He was a tremendously effective military leader. Mormon was cast from the same mold, as was his son. They did not delight in the shedding of their brethern’s blood, however they were not afraid to wield a sword in defense of their nation, family or religon.

    Today’s conflicts are seldom settled on the battlefield. They are waged in the shadows. Do you really want to know what goes on in these shadow wars? Probably not. Do you really want to know the gory details of the battles waged in World War II? I submit to you that, unless you have a really strong stomach, you really don’t want that information.

    I believe the Lord understands that, in the defense of liberty and freedom, sometimes actions are taken which – in ordinary circumstances – would not be in harmony with the Gospel.

    Wars – whether fought in the shadows or on the battlefield – are part of the human condition. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but it is made possible by those rough people who stand prepared to wage violence so that good people may sleep peacefully in their bed.

    Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God. – Matthew 5:9

  4. 1. Agree.
    2. Agree.
    3. Agree. I wouldn’t ever work in those areas, though.
    4. The “benefits” are forced upon me.
    5. I pursue my own interests.
    6. We are responsible if we willingly consent to their existence.

  5. Question to Admin: What is up with the links on the left hand side of the page (where it lists the latest commenters) with the words “Hates Our Troops”? Bad form guys. Really bad form.

  6. By the way, the 12th Article of Faith is hardly a comprehensive statement on our duty toward the government. A better guide is D&C 134:

    We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of cconscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life… we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship, to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul. We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments

    I believe that we are not fully protected in our rights at the present time, and therefore are not fully bound to obey the government.

  7. Cordeiro,

    I put the “hates our troops” follow as a joke. I didn’t think people would be offended. I’ll change it.

  8. 1. Certainly although not necessarily

    2. This is more complex since a law might be wrong under God but God might wish us to follow it. The big issue is when is a law sufficiently bad that God wants us to engage in civil disobedience. That’s not at all clear. Certainly the Church has done so, both in the early Church and in the early Utah Church. Typically things didn’t fair too well. Especially under Joseph. The policy, with few exceptions, the last 100 years has been to obey the laws period. Although clearly even the church plays fast and loose sometimes. (i.e. some play with Visas for missionaries)

    So to me the issue is less laws, with the implication of a clear set of rules we simply adhere to than it is following the spirit in the particulars (which is more risky, given our mortal foibles, but also more righteous)

    3. Certainly they can come into conflict. Which is why its so important to be in tune with the spirit. Yet ironically, I can see some of those endeavors also being very trying for the spirit. Something we’ve discussed here before. So the very time we may need the spirit the most we may find hearing it the most difficult.

    4. This is a trickier situation. On the one hand we can say we’re enjoying the fruits of “ends versus the means” policies. On the other we can also say we’re suffering the fruits of the same. i.e. South and Central America’s views towards the US because of past CIA and military abuses. So it’s more complex again than I think you suggest. I think what we have to do is be active politically to try and get policies put in place that avoid the conflicts you raise.

    5. I don’t think that the “nasty brutish world” is necessarily at odds with the Laws of God. Recall that God has done things that appear nasty and brutish. So I think there is a place for aggressive actions. The trick is finding the ones that are righteous.

    6. I think we are responsible to the degree that we, as citizens, ignore our role as overseers for the Watchmen. To the famous aphorism, “who watches the watchmen?,” one must say that it is us. The problem is that most Americans are woefully ignorant of what is done in our name and our foreign policies. And even those who know, often don’t act politically. We have to ensure that righteous people run for office and promote oversight and responsibility.

  9. Anonymoose (#2),

    Of course you wouldn’t be held responsible if your brother stole from a store. The moral dilemma comes from when your brother gives you some of the money that he took. Maybe he just happens to leave a pineapple on your counter that he took from the store. You eat it and it is good. Are you morally responsible for enjoying that pineapple?

    My answer would be that, yes, we would be responsible if we knew that the pineapple was stolen. Obviously, if we didn’t know, then we can’t sin in ignorance. And herein lies dilemma. I think that most people recognize that there are things going on “in the shadows” that probably shouldn’t. We are able to sleep at night because we don’t exactly know what is going on and we can, therefore, remain ignorant. I feel that to intentionally remain ignorant is immoral.

    So for me, I think the best course of action is to encourage the shining of light into the shadows. When we find things that are wrong, we deal with it, try our best to fix it and then move on. I think that this fullfills our moral obligation and should allow us to enjoy our “benefits” of the wathmen without guilt.

    There is a fine line to be walked between having our head in the sand and shining our light in places that are justifiably (and maybe even righteously) dark.

  10. We supposedly are a self-ruled society, so we have the privilege of voting for the candidates and issues we want, but we also take on the responsibility of those decisions. The government and all it’s agencies work in our behalf and in our name, so it is important that we cast our support behind those that we really should support. If we lived under a king or dictator it would be different because we would have no say it what is done.

    But even not participating (ie, voting, etc) is a derilection of duty for those that are uder self-rule and we will be held accountable for it. It is encumbant for us to learn the issues, form an opinion, and support the ones that conform with what we consider to be good. However, we also should not simply rely and information presented to us or summarized by some group, party, or news agency and simply base our decisions off of that. We need to do our own ‘research’ and learn things on our own in case the information that is neatly presented to us is not the whole picture or is biased.

    Now for the part that will make people mad: I think that the members of the LDS church will be held responsible for supporting the Bush Administration. Utah has had the greatest approval ratings for Bush for quite awhile. We will be held responsible for re-electing him, for supporting the NSA’s wiretapping, and for supporting a pre-emtive war against Iraq based on falsified\misleading intelligence. Being ignorant of the issues and supporting the Bush Admin. because they say the right things in 10 second sound bites on Fox is no excuse. 911 has been the justification for war and the erosion of our liberties. We as good LDS members have been carefully led along a path for us to go along with programs and efforts that go against the constitution and to ignore the danger that our country really is in (myself included). Pride and fear of being wrong, of admitting to being deceived, of admitting that the once great Republican Party has been hijacked, are keeping us as a body of members from acknowledging that there are secret combinations at work and a great deception has been put forth. Flame away.

  11. But even not participating (ie, voting, etc) is a derilection of duty for those that are under self-rule and we will be held accountable for it. It is encumbant for us to learn the issues, form an opinion, and support the ones that conform with what we consider to be good.

    What if there is no acceptable candidate? I don’t think we will be held accountable for that…

  12. Roy, if you have done your due diligence and have determined that there are no candidates that are ‘good’ then not voting for any of them would be the right thing to do. However, if you were to avoiding learning about the candidates because of laziness or indifference and didn’t bother voting, then you would have to answer for neglecting your duty.

  13. One can help ensure available candidates by becoming involved in the political process. (It’s surprisingly easy) Merely waiting for election day certainly does give the power to a remarkable few.

  14. I don’t exist,

    All those who oppose wiretapping will be held directly responsible for all the deaths that may occur as a result of terrorist activities that fail to be thwarted if wiretapping is successfully brought down.

    Davis,

    Though I understand what you’re saying, I find this type of reasoning troubling. If moral people keep themselves from allegedly corrupt but necessarily institutions, the alleged levels of corruption are just going to increase. If there are moral problems within the CIA or military, then that itself ought to be the #1 reason more Mormons and/or moral people ought to join.

    Whatever good one is able to do in these organizations is going to be infinitely more valuable than the armchair quarterbacks who sit back in their cushy seats and criticize the agencies that are trying to protect them.

  15. An important test I use in passing judgement upon an act of government is this: If it were up to me as an individual to punish my neighbor for violating a given law, would it offend my conscience to do so? – Ezra Taft Benson

    I have no right to listen to my neighbor’s private conversations in order to make sure they’re not trying to kill anyone. it would offend my conscience to do so. To you, that may be a radical and dangerous attitude, and may even result in someone’s death, but I am not culpable for it if it does.

    You, however, are guilty of consenting to evil and granting to the government a power it does not rightfully have.

  16. Eric, then you better get rid of all the barriers to government being able to do whatever it needs to prevent terrorists from killing anyone. You better get rid of free speech in case someone says something that might encourage the terrorists. You better get rid of the right of freedom of religion, because someone may preach a religion that would help the terrorists. You better get rid of the right to bear arms, because a terrorist may kill someone with a gun. You better get rid of the separation of powers, posse commitatus, etc., etc. Satan’s plan was to sacrifice agency for safety. The constitution, however, protects individual rights and yet it still gives government all the tools it needs to protect us physically.

    Someone please explain to me how wiretapping without a warrant is a) constitutional, and b) consistent with D&C 98.

    D&C 98:
    6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
    7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

    Fourth Amendment of the Constitution

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  17. I’d rather have another 9-11 than submit to Bush’s definition of what government can do.

    I think the sacrifice would be worth preserving our liberty and our democratic ideals.

    “Those who trade freedom for security deserve neither.”

  18. You said:

    [Americans]do not generally worry about being ethnically cleansed, having their country invaded by a foreign power, being blown up by a suicide bomber, starving to death, being taken in the night by secret police, or any of the other isses confronted by citizens of other nations.
    The absence of these problems is in large part due to the Watchmen.

    I don’t agree with this premise. We don’t worry about those problems because people in the United States generally choose behaviors that don’t lead to those problems, not because the armed forces or the police protect us from them. Even as to invasion, for the most part we are still protected by geography, by the oceans that separate us from everybody else in the world but Canada and Mexico. Canada and Mexico?? The only person apparently concerned about an invasion by the Mexican army is Lou Dobbs.

  19. #9 – you are right, I should haev clarified, if we know they stole, then there is def a moral problem there, but in most cases, we do not know the ‘dark’ places or things that go on other than we know that they go on, or is that just conspiracy theory, hmmmm….

    #19 – Canadians have nothing to invade with and Canada’s greatest hope militarily is that someone will help them when they are invaded!

  20. Seeing as that I don’t live in New York and have little vested interest in New York as a whole (note that Wall Street could easily move to Omaha), I will agree with Seth R (#18) in that I don’t mind another 9/11.

    But if that other 9/11 were to occur in my part of TGSOT, I’d have issues…

  21. 1. Agree
    2. Disagree D&C 134: 12 “We do not believe it right to interfere with bond servants…nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life…such interference we believe to be unlawful…†I interpret this scripture as saying that the church does not support breaking the law if the law does not hurt the church, however if an in individual decides to live a higher law than they will be blessed. This scripture was about the Abolitionist movement. God would not curse those who remained neutral in regards to the Abolitionist movement because of the law. However I believe that those both in the Church and out of the Church, who fought against slavery, ran the UGRR or believed in the Abolitionist Cause would be blessed.
    3. Agree It is possible. I’m not sure what I would do. I would not seek out those assignments, but if given the order I would speak my mind. Good righteous people (not necessarily members of the Church) should become watchmen to prevent things like… The government giving terrorists nerve gas then blowing the terrorists up with it as an excuse to strengthen our hold in southeast Asia (24).
    4. This week I signed the papers to join ROTC. I have thought long and hard about this topic over the past few years. I have decided that it is OK because of the above comments. (BTW ROTC really wants me to serve a mission.)
    5. see #3
    6. Idunno

    How do you apply for a job in the CIA?

  22. queno,

    I don’t know how I’d react when the chips were down. All I know is how I hope I’d act.

  23. Also note, that Manhattanites aren’t exactly thrilled with Bush’s ideas of governance either.

  24. 3. Do you believe it’s possible and/or probable that by working in the military, the intelligence agencies, or the foreign policy establishment you would confront a situation where the laws of God and those of man are mutually exclusive? How would you react?

    4. If the possibility of those situations keeps you out of those lines of work, how do you justify enjoying the benefits brought about by others in those professions?

    5. What general principles would you follow for remaining true to the laws of God while pursuing the interests of your country in a nasty, brutish world?

    6. To what extent are we responsible for the actions of the Watchmen, including those carried out in secret?

    It is possible to keep clean in those lines of work, just as it is possible in other lines of work.

    Consider health care. Most doctors benefit from the price-fixing conspiracies of the AMA (not to mention, the economists who benefit by being able to write papers about them). Is it therefore immoral to be a doctor? Immoral to be treated by a doctor?

    I really do not think so. I know a good number of moral doctors and other health care providers.

    You can expand this hypothetical farther than it looks, but the premises bear examination.

    Good start though.

  25. All those who oppose wiretapping will be held directly responsible for all the deaths that may occur as a result of terrorist activities that fail to be thwarted if wiretapping is successfully brought down.

    I believe all muslims should be round up and put into camps until the “war on terrorism” is over. All who oppose this plan will be held directly responsible when one of those people set off a dirty bomb somewhere in the U.S.

    Jeez, are you kidding me?

  26. Ok you slippery slopers, jj-there is a balance between the liberty we give up and the security we receive.

    The Constitution prevents UNREASONABLE searches. Unreasonable is defined by a small group of 9 people appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Furthermore in this case you have the competing interest of national security because the calls are international. Additionally, you don’t have an expectation of privacy when you call most countries outside the USA. Do you think for one second you can call someone in Iran without anyone listening? And I don’t mean just the USA.

    Its like the speed limits from the other post, you have the right to travel, but when you get in a car you give up some of that right in order to promote safety. As a society we decide the balance between how quickly we want to travel and how safe we want to be. When you get on an airplane or enter a federal building you are searched, but we’ve decided that search is reasonable in relation to the safety we achieve. Clearly a majority of Americans feel that wiretapping international calls is a small price to pay for avoiding terrorist activity and while some say they would rather have another 9-11, how about a nuclear device? Would you rather have 3million killed instead of 3000? At that point would you be willing to permit wiretapping? I think so.

    Just try and put things in perspective.

    I also wholly agree with the idea that the righteous need to be in positions where they can try and move groups with power, like the CIA, in better directions. Some say that removing Saddam was partially an attempt to remedy prior US mistakes, an old dictator they used to prop up (I know there are other dictators but one at a time).

  27. The idea that we can join the CIA to make it better is ludicrous.
    For example, if it is your duty and mission to provide arms to the Contras so that they can go and blow up elementary schools and terrorize the Nicaraguans how can your mormon influence be used to somehow make the situation a little better? In the CIA if you don’t follow orders, I’d assume you’d get into a pretty difficult situation pretty fast.
    There are a number of situations that could a occur which an agent would have no control over for righteousness but to disobey orders.
    You don’t make a secret combination better by joining it. You extinguish it from your midst before the sword of justice falls.

  28. Wow. Putting ones life on the line to help serve and protect ones fellow Americans is so rewarding when those being served appreciate it so much.

  29. Seth R. and Queuno I cannot for the life of me understand how you can both make such cold statements in regards to 9/11.

  30. I think they were just trying to make a point that they would rather risk security then forego their civil liberties. I agree. I would rather suffer catastrophe and terrorism than have a totalitarian government.

    Eric – You assume we don’t appreciate individual civil servants because we disagree with the governments policies. This is the position that states in order to ‘support the troops’ I have to want them to be in Iraq. Hogwash. See, ideally I wish the world was perfect and peaceful and we didn’t need protection. Im glad we have police to arrest the bad guys. Im glad there are those willing to sacrifice their life to protect the freedom and principles this country is founded on. However, I think that idealistic country died a long time ago. I think too often the law enforcement abuse their power. Bad guys get away, good people get scapegoated, fear is used as a political tool and then we are emotionally blackmailed into supporting the broken system. I am quite frankly fed up with it all and have had more than enough of these type of statements. I do not support a corrupt CIA, nor unnecessary and losing battles. And I don’t have to, and that is what is so great about America.

  31. Mostly, people just suffer from BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome). This renders them incapable of balance, nuance or rationality. Anyone who argues we are under a totalitarion regime (or even close to one) is deep into their BDS and can’t be talked out of it.

    Not that those who suffer from BWS (Bush Worshipfulness Syndrome) are any better. But at least they have an idea of what to do. Those who suffer from BDS are merely relflexively against everything Bush and the current government does.

  32. Anybody who thinks the US government is anywhere near a totalitarian government has never actually lived in a totalitarian country, and, indeed, knows nothing about what a totalitarian government is like.

  33. Ivan – sure there is truth to what you say. But not as many anti-Bush people suffer from such derangement.

    I never said we are already under a totalitarian regime, but we are plunging closer and closer. And its not all because of Bush, though he has sure hastened the process. You know the old Lenin quote, about how when he hangs the capitalists it will be with the cord they sold him? Well, when we reach a complete fascist state, it will be our vote that brings it to pass. This is the sad truth. This is where the Nazi references come into play – the people of Germany bought into the Nazi party and its leader hook line and sinker. In political science classes you will learn about propaganda and the Nazi party is the best example of its success. We live in a propaganda nation now, we delude ourselves into thinking we have freedom of speech (got a permit for the demonstration?) and we vote to pass laws everyday that restrict our other freedoms as well. The government is in control of special interests (aka MONEY aka Corporations) and this has never been more evident than with the current crisis over our Ports.

    For the record, I didn’t always hate bush. His track record (trillian dollar deficit, ‘neverending war on terror’ leading to reduction in civil liberties, Iraq quagmire, selling of our ports, privatizing of Social security, reduction in student aid, ‘trickle down economics’… I could go on…) led me to my current distaste for the administration. My hatred of him, is completly rational. And it is not only him. I think the entire system has failed, and under Bush’s policys and the liberal/conservative polarization (with the majority of voters beginning extremely far right) we are beginning to completely unravel. We are in a dangerous position in history and rhetoric such as ‘support our troops’ and ‘these colors don’t run’ and even ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ and all the other many instances of complex important issues being reduced to slogans and side-choosing will be the end of our liberty.

  34. Davis, I am sorry I have not gotten around to this thread until now. Your assertion in the original post that the US government “overthrew” Allende is incorrect and contradicted by the Wikipedia post you link:

    Regarding Pinochet’s rise to power, the CIA undertook a comprehensive analysis of its records and individual memoirs as well as conducting interviews with former agents, and concluded in a report issued in 2000 that the CIA “did not assist Pinochet to assume the Presidency.”

    I have studied this situation in detail, have spent a lot of time in Chile and discussed this with Chilean historians and politicians. The reality is that the Chilean army, and Pinochet, proudly point out that they carried out the coup against Allende without outside help. It is true that Nixon opposed the Allende government, but so did most of Latin America except Cuba at the time, and Allende’s radicals were succeeding in completely destroying Chile to the point that Pinochet had substantial support domestically and certainly overwhelmingly within the Chilean military.

    I have no qualms with saying that the CIA has been involved in the overthrow of other governments. You should have used the example of Guatemala and the overthrow of Arbenz, in which the CIA played the major role.

    But your assertion that the CIA overthrew Allende in Chile is an urban myth, primarily popularized by the movie “Missing,” and is simply not true.

  35. Did I call Bush a Nazi? Did I refer to the republican party as the nazi party? Both these notions are absurb. What I said, is the use of propaganda and its success in our current political environment is where Nazi comparisons stem from. Your inability to have any discourse on these issues with me, but instead use sarcasm and “your-just-anti-bush” rhetoric seems to prove both your own point about bush worshippers and my point about buying into the propaganda.

    If we refuse to learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

  36. I never said we are already under a totalitarian regime, but we are plunging closer and closer.

    Here is the Wikipedia definition of a totalitarian government.

    Hmmm.

    Freedom of the press: is there more or less access to information sources today than 30 years ago? With the advent of the internet and other alternate sources of media, there is obviously much, much more access to information. I can’t remember the last time that a newspaper critizing the government was closed, can you? Yet, that happens all the time in totalitarian regimes.

    Freedom of religion: Can anybody who is Mormon argue that we are somehow more oppressed — or indeed that any religious group is more oppressed — now? There is more religious freedom in the United States today than at any other time in history.

    Freedom of assembly: there is more freedom of assembly than at any other time in history. I was just trying to imagine the possibility of a Cindy Sheehan-type camping outside Stalin or Hitler’s homes, and somehow I just couldn’t see it happening.

    I think you get my point. People with BDS, as Ivan succinctly calls it, have no sense of objective reality, and very little knowledge of history, and must come up with grand hyperboles comparing America to Nazi Germany to somehow make their points. Julie, stick to smaller, more provable claims.

  37. Geoff,

    1. I did link the Arbenz overthrow (click on the word “gravely” on the 5th paragraph down).

    2. Regarding Allende: I’m afraid the issue isn’t as clear as you make it sound. For one, a CIA review of its involvement in the coup lacks a great deal of credibitlity. For another, “Documents declassified during the Clinton administration show that the United States government and the CIA had sought the overthrow of Allende in 1970, immediately after he took office (“Project FUBELT”). While this isn’t the coup that actually worked, we at least know that the CIA had motive and intent. Thirdly, Kissinger’s statement that “We didn’t do it. I mean we helped them. [Garbled] created the conditions as great as possible,” is enough for me. Perhaps there is less culpability than actually pulling the trigger ourselves, but we clearly played a role in toppling a democratically-elected leader.

  38. Davis, sorry about so many comments, but as I said I’m just getting around to reading this.

    It is worth noting that the CIA is a huge organization. The vast majority of its workers do nothing more than gather and process information and are doing nothing more harmful than a newspaper editor or reporter (and, these days, considerably less harmful than the MSM). Lest you think that all CIA people are white-shirted Republican clones, in fact you might be interested to learn that there is considerable anecdotal evidence that the majority of CIA bureaucrats, like the State Dept and FBI bureaucrats, are Democrats. I have known a fair amount of CIA employees in my time, and their politics are slightly to the left of the average American’s.

    I would never work for the CIA because I dislike large bureaucracies where there is very little individuality.

    Now, of course, there are CIA operatives throughout the world, but please put away your images of James Bond. The vast majority of their time — I’m talking 90-plus percent — is spent gathering information by interviewing government officials, taking them out to lunch, schmoozing with army generals, etc, and, yes, cutting stuff out of the local newspapers and e-mailing it to HQ where other bureaucrats sit around categorizing and analyzing.

    Chances are very good, Davis, that if you had taken that CIA job you would have never done anything more morally repugnant than sitting at a desk filing stuff and surfing on the web looking for information. It’s a long road from there to overthrowing governments and propping up dictators.

  39. Davis, re: 40. I would urge you to read this article, which supports some of your points but makes the following argument, which was my principle point:

    But it would also be a mistake to exaggerate the U.S. role in the 1973 coup. In the final analysis, the coup was a Chilean affair, conceived and executed by Chileans. So there is an additional reason the United States should come clean about its role: Allende’s overthrow as a symbol of American tyranny is ultimately hollow, or at least unfaithful to any balanced account.

  40. Julie, thank you for pointing out that there are legitimate, thoughtful reasons for “BDS.”

    Ivan, (#37)thanks for proving to me again that I am on the correct side of the increasingly polarized divide over Bush. Julie listed several substantive reasons (#35) for despising the current administration’s policies. She also made a separate point about propoganda. Rather than deal with any of the substantive points she made and rather than address her argument about propoganda, you chose to imply (with a generalization clearly intended to cover all Bush detractors) that she was deluded.

    The best you could do was to throw down the Nazi trumpcard? Really?? Are we now all supposed to forget Julie’s reasons (and that you ducked them)? That really only works in talk radio. Here, you can’t shout at someone to shutup or cut their mic.

  41. Geoff,

    The process of my recruitment lasted well over six months, in which time I did a great deal of research. This in addition to the many books I have read on the matter, as well as my general knowledge of foreign policy and international affairs. I understand very well what I would and would not have been doing (I was interviewing with the Directorate of Operations, not the Directorate of Intelligence). I at no time had any delusions of being James Bond or single-handedly overthrowing governments. Thanks for the heads up, though.

  42. Base and Julie, I know that for you everything is about hating Bush. But that is actually not the subject of this post, which has to do with the CIA and US foreign policy and how it is or is not compatible with creating the Kingdom of God. Going on a long rant against the administration’s policies is a bit of a tangent, don’t you think, although again for people with BDS that is the subject of every single post on every single blog.

  43. Davis, #44, I’m glad to see that you did your research. My comment in #41 was principally intended as just a real-world look at what CIA people actually do with their time. You may know this better than I. I was surprised when I sat down and talked to CIA people how they spent their time — the James Bond comment was more of a throwaway intended to point out that most CIA work is paper-filing.

    So, given that the vast majority of CIA people are not really involved in the morally repugnant stuff mentioned in your post, but are in fact simply morally neutral bureaucrats just trying to keep their jobs and earn a paycheck and support their families, while happening to work for their government, can you tell me again, based on your experience, why your primary concern was that you would “either be asked to do things I found morally objectionable or, perhaps more likely, that I would be unwittingly contributing to an end that I would find morally objectionable.”

    My point is that you haven’t really proven that your work would have been morally objectionable.

  44. Actually – and this is rather frustrating – I was not hyper-focusing on Bush but every sarcastic jibe at my comments has. I was focusing, in relation to “CIA and US foreign policy and how it is or is not compatible with creating the Kingdom of God.” This is how my comments began (in response to sarcastic and missing-the-point jabs at others comments regarding this post)

    32 I think they were just trying to make a point that they would rather risk security then forego their civil liberties. I agree. I would rather suffer catastrophe and terrorism than have a totalitarian government.

    Notice in this comment, I did not call our government totalitarian. It was a pretty straightforward statement, actually that was misconstrued and twisted and spun by everyone who has posted since, besides base.

    I then addressed the fact that I am sick of the anti-american-you-don’t-support-the-troops rhetoric that people throw around in mass quantities. I stated my reasons for this and how that related to my view of the CIA and its actions. Ivan then responded that I am simply a deranged Bush hater. I never even mentioned Bush. So, in my response I did, to illustrate the fact that my issues are with the US govt at large and control of public opinion, more than Bush himself, though I do have my reasons for disliking Bush’s policies. You can re-read the posts if you like, its all pretty straightforward.

    So, Geoff, I have stuck to provable claims (though maybe now I will put together more of the evidence and write my own blog on the subject) I even cited my evidence, and I never resorted to Bush-bashing. Not once. So, it looks like the only problem with rationality is coming from those of you who may fall into Ivan’s “bush-worshipping’ category, though, interstingly, he considered those more rational.

  45. The way I see it, there were two concerns:

    1. The possibility of being put in a situation where I had to do things I found morally objectionable. I never said this was inevitable, only possible. The fact that I wouldn’t be the American James Bond doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be doing morally objectionable things. CIA operatives are responsible for cultivating intelligence contacts, or “assets.” The use of the word “asset” reveals a great deal in this context; in many cases these people are squeezed dry for information and left with ruined families and lives. They are won over by appealing to their weaknesses and base instincts. Not to mention that a CIA operative is forced to lie as a matter of course, day in, day out.

    2. The second is association with an institution that is involved in things I find objectionable. Now, I know that we have to live in the world and be involved with the world, and as US citizen i’m always going to be in some way or another involved with the government. so, it becomes a matter of degree, and being a citizen is, in my view, better than actually working for the CIA and being on the payroll.

  46. One last point and then my work here is done.

    Curtis, in #28 makes the typical leftist claim that the goal of the CIA was to:

    provide arms to the Contras so that they can go and blow up elementary schools and terrorize the Nicaraguans

    Now, it is true that the CIA was involved in providing arms to the Contras. And it is true that in war sometimes civilian targets are hit. But to claim that the primary purpose of CIA money was to blow up elementary schools and terrorize Nicaraguans is patently ludicrous. There were hundreds of Contra attacks, and almost all were on legitimate military targets. I observed some of the results of the attacks personally. In fact, if it weren’t for US government advisers, the attacks would have been much less directed at military targets and more about getting revenge on individual people with whom the Contra leaders had grudges. So, you can make a strong argument that the CIA advisers were, in fact, carrying out the morally positive role of helping an undisciplined, angry army act in a more disciplined manner and minimizing civilian targets.

    As I have stated in other threads, Nicaragua was a totalitarian country (no freedom of the press, no freedom of religion or assembly, no freedoms for unions to organize and on and on) under the Sandinistas. Now, it is not. The primary reason it is not is that the Contras forced Daniel Ortega to the negotiating table and backed him into a position where he allowed free elections, which he lost.

    There are reasons to oppose the Contras. Some of their leaders were thugs, and I’m glad they’re not running Nicaragua today. But to claim that the CIA was attacking elementary schools and terrorizing the population is simply false.

  47. Interesting, Geoff, that you were able to divine from my one rather short post (on this entire thread) that you “know that for [me] everything is about hating Bush.” (#45) In reality, I reserve a small portion of distaste for the duck-the-issue-by-making-a-personal-attack-on-the-speaker-crowd as well. Of course, since you can apparently read minds, you must have known this.

    Julie’s post in #47 seems to me an accurate account of her history of being unfairly maligned in this thread. Do you have a substantive response, or just another ad hominem attack?

  48. Whenever someone begins using Nazis, I feel the debate is over since I’m sure that anyone who seriously uses a Nazi analogy regarding current America isn’t worthy of debate.

    Base -

    I feel I am on the correct side, since all Democrats have anymore is (despite the many, many messes of the Republican party) “I’m against whatever Bush is for because Bush is evil.”

    That’s not stance, it’s a reaction and you can’t win elections with it. I see no need to debate people whose main points rely on Nazi analogies. Period. Nazi analogies are not substative and they demean the true evil of the Nazis.

    See Geoff B’s comments above. I’m tired of arguing with people who have a a priori hate for Bush and then come up with reasons to hate him later.

  49. So Geoff,
    Are you going to deny that it was a terrorist war that the Contra’s were fighting and it was wrong that Nicaragua won a 17 billion dollar victory in an international court case against the USA for it’s role in using force against the nation of Nicaragua (shorthand for funding a terrorist war)?

    It was well known that the contras were committing atrocities on civilians and this was supported by the USA, much like Saddam’s attacks on Kurds or Shiites were supported by the USA though we now put Saddam on trial for the crimes which we supported back then.

  50. Wow, does anyone even READ my posts? My frustration is turning to anger. Let me re-post my reference to Nazi-ism, which was more just a text-book reference to the use of propaganda by Governments and how this can be wildly successful:

    You know the old Lenin quote, about how when he hangs the capitalists it will be with the cord they sold him? Well, when we reach a complete fascist state, it will be our vote that brings it to pass. This is the sad truth. This is where the Nazi references come into play – the people of Germany bought into the Nazi party and its leader hook line and sinker. In political science classes you will learn about propaganda and the Nazi party is the best example of its success. We live in a propaganda nation now, we delude ourselves into thinking we have freedom of speech (got a permit for the demonstration?) and we vote to pass laws everyday that restrict our other freedoms as well. The government is in control of special interests (aka MONEY aka Corporations) and this has never been more evident than with the current crisis over our Ports.

    So, while it may not have been greatly communicated, I was comparing the USE OF PROPAGANDA and NEVER MADE ONE REFERENCE TO OUR CURRENT PRESIDENT. I was referring more to our citizens and our ability to buy into political propaganda and sloganism, even to our own detrement.

    I specifically said that one of the greatest problems is the ‘taking sides’ mentality of the current political climate in our country:

    We are in a dangerous position in history and rhetoric such as ‘support our troops’ and ‘these colors don’t run’ and even ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ and all the other many instances of complex important issues being reduced to slogans and side-choosing will be the end of our liberty.

    And yet, Ivan, you are coming back to which side you are on:

    Base -

    I feel I am on the correct side, since all Democrats have anymore is (despite the many, many messes of the Republican party) “I’m against whatever Bush is for because Bush is evil.”

    This completly illustrates what I was trying to point out with being the whole problem in our country today. Why do you have to be either or? Isn’t it more than a little bit true that both sides are reactionary in their policies and rhetoric? At the highest levels, this is not by accident and is a war for control of our opinion through sound bites and over-simplified morality.

    I am not a democrat. I am not a republican. As I said in the first comment on this thread, my loyalty is first to the Kingdom of God, second to the country and its laws, and in particular orgs like the CIA.

    I believe much of what the government and its various agencies do is truly evil, as were actions of the Nazi party in the 1930s and 1940s. Your inability to discuss the similarties or differences in any rational sense, instead saying that any references to the Nazi party in relation to America are totally out of the question, seems pretty unfair. I was not making sweeping generalizations, instead comparing the use of propaganda specifically.

    Again, my hate is for what the US govt and the political machine, (and the CIA), over the course of the past 45 years or so, has become. Not just Bush. How many times must I reiterate this?

  51. Ivan, please point to a single post on this thread from myself or Julie that demonstrates a priori hatred for Bush. You won’t be able to. The truth is, you won’t even try. My guess is that both you and Geoff will continue to sidestep the real debate by characterizing the speakers as unworthy (ie, deluded or incapable of rational discourse because of hatred). You seem to be the only ones here incapable of engaging in rational discourse without preconcieved notions (ie, BDS sufferers convince themselves they aren’t suffering and people who invoke Nazi analogies are unworthy).

  52. Base and Julie-

    Fine. Your comments indicate that you are incapable of giving Bush a fair trial, but here goes. i will debate Julies “substantive” comments, point by point.

    I never said we are already under a totalitarian regime, but we are plunging closer and closer.

    We are? I don’t see it. We have freer access to the press than in the past. Religous freedom in the USA is at an all time high. I’d need to know what the baseline here is. Closer than 5 years ago? Closer than 15 years ago? The only (possibly) totalitarian impulses I see comes from the left, where campus speech codes makes any speech that might offend someone somewhere illegal.

    I’ll skip the next part, since it’s the “Nazi” part and I consider any arguments that compare Bush and American to Hitler and Nazi Germany not only wrongheaded but historically ignorant.

    We live in a propaganda nation now, we delude ourselves into thinking we have freedom of speech (got a permit for the demonstration?) and we vote to pass laws everyday that restrict our other freedoms as well. The government is in control of special interests (aka MONEY aka Corporations) and this has never been more evident than with the current crisis over our Ports.

    Considering Bill Clinton had many similar problems (and was even partly responsible for the Dubai deal), I’m not sure why Bush needs to take all the heat from this. Plus, I hate to say it, but the Dubai port deal is overblown. The USA still handles security. Foreign companies have run ports like that for decades. If Clinton were president and Republcians were complaining, they would be accused of being racists.

    For the record, I didn’t always hate bush. His track record (trillian dollar deficit, ‘neverending war on terror’ leading to reduction in civil liberties, Iraq quagmire, selling of our ports, privatizing of Social security, reduction in student aid, ‘trickle down economics’… I could go on…) led me to my current distaste for the administration. My hatred of him, is completly rational.

    Hence the Nazi allegories – total rational. I haven’t seen any of these reductions in Civil liberties. Bush’s wiretapping thing isn’t much different than the warrantless searches and siezures pratcied under Clinton’s watch. But I guess it’s okay, cause Clinton was a Democrat.
    Student aid has not been reduced – it has only had it’s rate of increase slowed. It seems you are buying into the Democratic propoganda a bit too easliy.

    We are in a dangerous position in history and rhetoric such as ‘support our troops’ and ‘these colors don’t run’ and even ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ and all the other many instances of complex important issues being reduced to slogans and side-choosing will be the end of our liberty.

    Interesting, such much of your argument consisted of simplistic phrases tat ignored the intricacies and complexities of Bush’s policies. Much of your argument consists of nothing more than the repition of tired Democratic propoganda.

    One more point:
    The only people I hear using the terms “unamerican” and “unpatriotic” are Democrats. In Minnesota, for example, the Democratic party has gone so far as to call the families of soldiers “unamerican.” I have not heard Bush or anyone in his administration call Democrats those terms.

  53. Ah yes – because Tom Tomorrow is such a rational, unbiased observor.

    (and there are no such things as blue state specs).

    It’s odd – supporters of Bush often find themselves in the more nuanced, moderate position: “Well, Bush has done X, Y, Z wrong and I wish he would stop doing A, B, and C and he really needs to do N, J, and K even though I support him, I can’t support everything he does”

    whereas BDS sufferes (like Bill and others, apparently) tend to just hate everything Bush does, period, no matter what.

    So, again – which side is more nuanced, moderate and rational?

  54. Hmm – now, if I could just spell “observer”.

    But Bill’s comment is typical. No discussion – just “jokes” that are only “funny” to the rabidly partisan.

  55. I never said that we are currently anywhere close to a “totalitarian” government.

    But Bush uses the same fear-mongering characteristic of people like President Karimov, Vladimir Putin and others. All of these folks justify the things they do by appealing to the need for security. I am not saying that Bush is a dictator. I am saying that the logic he appeals to has justified some of the worst abuses in world history.

    Of course Bush isn’t Hitler. Not even close. But the same patterns are there. It’s irrelevant that we may not be on a slippery slope to neo-facism. I don’t want to engage in this kind of world vision AT ALL. Whether we attain the same results as the totalitarians is irrelevant. We need to be taking a different path than them.

  56. Of course Bush isn’t Hitler. Not even close. But the same patterns are there

    I’m sorry, but that’s not gonna fly. You just said “Bush ain’t Hitler, even though he is.”

    As I keep saying – this is why the political left is in ruins. It doesn’t even realize it’s speaking gibberish.

  57. Hey you guys, calm down for a second. I’ve read many of your posts on other threads and you all have excellent minds capable of independant thought. I understand the desire to knee-jerk on both sides. When ideas or government agencies are attacked its easy to get defensive. Julie, you really should use better terms than hate or if you really do hate you need to repent. I only say this because I was in the same boat as you when Clinton was elected. I hated him until I read an excellent article and I had a discussion about how we view our political leaders. There is a strong tendancy to love or hate because they are making decisions that impact our lives. If you need more motivation to avoid hate, just remember that fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. (Yoda)

    Just to address a couple points, first the idea of privatizing social security sounds really good to an X-gen or Y-gen person because we really won’t receive social security that will come anywhere near close to addressing our financial needs. If we had a private fund in addition to SS that grew at a much higher rate than the ridiculous federal rate we might have more of a chance. Sure implementing this good idea is extremely difficult. Especially to those who will shortly or are currently on SS. And SS will without doubt be adjusted for me and my generation we’ll have to work longer and probably have a reduction in benefits also. Worst case scenario, life spans reach 200 years as some scientists argue could happen in the next 50 years. I can guarantee you won’t retire at 65. The point is we need to work toward an endowment society instead of a credit society. The problem is the American people are a spoiled brat and no one wants to give up anything. If we put away 10% of our federal budget for a few years we could have a government that runs on the interest. Imagine if someone said you can pay 10 years of double taxes and then never pay tax again. Course you’d always have the doom and gloomers but

  58. Heli -

    you’re right. I (at least) should chill a bit.

    I did see some of the CDS (Clinton Derangement Syndrome) among people I knew and I liked it not at all. However, at least Republicans seemed to (occasionally, with great reluctance) admit Clinton did a few things right. Liberals seems incapable of the same with Bush.

    But, whatever. I really don’t like how polarized the political climate is nowadays, but I haven’t been alive long enough to know if things were any better in the 1960s or the 1890s, so perhaps that’s just how things are.

    In either case, Bush won’t be president after 2008, so then we can all turn our “strong antipathy” towards whoever else gets in power then.

  59. Since Ivan has played the offended Muslim card, I guess I’d better engage in some discussion in order to redeem myself from being a rabid partisan, or worse, an anarchic prankster.

    We know that Ivan is moderate and rational. Why? Because he is constantly proclaiming his independence of mind and his admiration for Joe Lieberman. The anecdotal evidence of his own experience, however, persuades him that only Republicans are capable of such nuance. Well, let me introduce him to a non-Republican who admires Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar, who contributed to the 2000 campaign of John McCain, and who voted for Giuliani, Bloomberg, and Lazio. Do I get to be moderate and rational now?

    Let me tell you A, B, and C, of my support for President Bush, something you didn’t expect to be possible. He increased many times the humanitarian assistance to fight AIDS in Africa. He was the first President to call for the establishment of a Palestinian state. He is trying to reform immigration in sensible ways. With a few blatant exceptions, he supports free trade. He took a political risk in trying to put entitlement reform on the agenda (although the main problem is with Medicare, not Social Security). I don’t even have a problem with his UAE ports deal.

    Of course, the list of my disappointments with the president would be slightly longer: the anti-science bias, the cronyism, the incompetence, the corporate giveaways, the disrespect for the rule of law, for starters, and the examples under each of these categories could be multiplied.

    So Ivan, please tell me the X, Y, Z that Bush has done wrong, and the A, B, and C that you wish he would stop doing.

  60. I can remember people attacking Reagan, much more his second term, but the hatred for Clinton and Bush is much worse. I just try and remember that these guys, almost without exception, are trying to do what they think is best. Sure they will compromise to stay in power because its better than when the opposing side compromises to stay in power.

    I also remember making fun of President Carter after seeing a comedian on TV. They acted like Carter was stupid similarly to Bush today. I would submit that all presidents are of above average intelligence. President Carter is a very important and effective post president, even if sometimes he sticks his nose in where he shouldn’t or makes statements that weaken the US position abroad. His heart is in the right place, but he sometimes forgets he isn’t President anymore and can’t have things they way he wants them. Can you see the inner struggle? Presidents do good things and make difficult decisions. I respect that I can see with hindsight that Bush flubbed Lousiana, even if he had some local help down there, he dropped the ball along with others.

  61. For what it is worth, I do agree with a few things this Administration supports– its support of traditional marriage; its opposition to partial birth abortion (indeed I favor overturning Roe v. Wade, but my recollection is that President Bush has never taken a position on that issue, and his wife supports Roe); a guest worker program (even though a strong contingent of conservative republicans don’t favor this); financial support of international AIDS prevention and treatment; the Afghanistan war; many of its judicial appointments, including Jay Bybee (even though I strongly disagree with the “torture memo” written by John Yoo, but signed by Jay) and Mike McConnell, among others; the somewhat “nuanced” position the Administration took on affirmative action; and health savings accounts. And, like you, I am not bothered by the UAE ownership of the company servicing some of our ports–indeed, I agree with a column of Richard Cohen (usually an ardent Bush critic), which praises Bush for not tolerating implicit anti-Arab bigotry. It is a good column; you might even like this one: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/27/AR2006022701041.html

    As I have suggested elsewhere, my perception is different from Ivan’s about which party is more accommodating to nuance and moderation–or which is more tolerant of differences (nuanced or unnuanced) in opinions of its members.

    Take one of the most controversial issues of the day–the Iraq war. I am opposed to it. So are many other democrats. Senator Lieberman (for whom I voted in the primary), and many others, are in favor. I do not know any prominent republican who is or was opposed to the war. I am pretty confident that even if I wanted to be a republican, I would not be welcome in the party because of my opposition to the war–even if I agreed with every other point of the platform.

    My perception of this republican Administration and Congress is that they are far from a party of nuance and moderation–to me their modus operendi almost always seems more like “my way or the highway”, with a “take no prisoners” attitude. But then, that’s just my opinion. The Bush 41 and even Reagan Administrations to me seemed much more willing to accept moderation and nuance among their supporters (which included me, even though I did not support some of their foreign policies).

  62. As far as living in under a totalitarian regime here in the US goes, I’d have to say that we actually live in practically the freest nation in the world, BUT… we also live in the most indoctrinated nation in the world (to borrow a line from Noam Chomsky). Haven’t you guys ever seen, “The Truman Show”?

  63. To quote a great neck-tie designer, I FEEL LIKE IM TAKING CRAZY PILLS.

    Your comments indicate that you are incapable of giving Bush a fair trial

    Good grief. Once again, did you read my posts? I never put Bush on trial. I never even mentioned Bush. All my comments, were directed at the government at large. As I have previously stated many times before, I only mentioned my stance on Bush when you accused me of being a deranged Bush hater. So, seems like you are the one wanting to do this little Bush trial.

    Considering Bill Clinton had many similar problems (and was even partly responsible for the Dubai deal), I’m not sure why Bush needs to take all the heat from this.

    Actually, I completely agree that Bill Clinton is partly responsible for this deal.

    But I guess it’s okay, cause Clinton was a Democrat.
    Student aid has not been reduced – it has only had it’s rate of increase slowed. It seems you are buying into the Democratic propoganda a bit too easliy.

    Actually, as I have mentioned MANY times already, I AM NOT DEMOCRAT. I cling to neither party and I do not understand why you are having such a hard time grasping this. I despise Bill Clinton as much as I despise Bush. I think the decisions both men made, and many presidents before them, and countless other elected officials in many capacities besides president, have led us down the dangerous path we are on.

    In fact, that was my whole point to begin with. Had you read carefully and considered what I said, you would realize that my Nazi comments were directed mostly at THE PEOPLE who buy into the Propaganda and the political climate at large. Hitler was never mentioned. I never said this administration was a totalitarian regime. I said, as I have reitereated (I really dont know how I can make it any clearer) that I would rather have terrorism than totalitarianism. Then you and others jumped to conclusions and went on a on-my-gosh-you-hate-bush tirade.

    In fact, everything you posted has been incredibly partisan and accusatory. My post (#32) never even mentioned Bush. However, your post (#33) responded by calling me a deranged Bush hater.

    This whole stupid thing has illustrated my point. Choose sides, rationlize all action by the ruling party you have chosen, polarize and simplify, use hot-bed issues and conflict to distract from the real problems, pacify with meaningless compromises and empty agreements, repeat ‘your side’s’ tired rhetoric about why the other side has no relevant contribution to make, and not allow any room for dissent. This is what is reducing our liberty…we are hanging ourselves with our own cord.

    Like I said before, if we are unwilling to learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

  64. Curtis #52,

    So Geoff,
    Are you going to deny that it was a terrorist war that the Contra’s were fighting and it was wrong that Nicaragua won a 17 billion dollar victory in an international court case against the USA for it’s role in using force against the nation of Nicaragua (shorthand for funding a terrorist war)?

    It was well known that the contras were committing atrocities on civilians and this was supported by the USA, much like Saddam’s attacks on Kurds or Shiites were supported by the USA though we now put Saddam on trial for the crimes which we supported back then.

    Curtis, yes. The Contra war was primarily a civil war of one faction of Nicaragua against another. It was not a “terrorist” war. In war, civilian targets sometimes suffer. The vast majority of Contra attacks were against legitimate military targets. The CIA actually helped influence the Contras to concentrate on military targets rather than pursue their own personal vendettas. All of these assertions are facts that you cannot and have not refuted in any way.

    Terrorist wars are much different. Remember 9/11 and the intifada? Terrorist wars involve the deliberate targetting of civilian targets as a way of spreading fear. This was not the tactic of the Contras, and in fact the tactic was the opposite. Once again, your sources are incorrect.

  65. Let’s see:

    Julie – I never said you must be a Democrat. I just said all your talking points come from Democratic propoganda – even some independents and republicans seem to be buying the half-truths and lies that come from the Democratic spin machine.

    Bill – you seem to have confused me with Geoff B. on a few of your comments. I don’t mind being confused with such a smart guy, but parse your responses a little better. I don’t recall playing the offended Muslim card, but even if somehow (inadvertantly) did it seems like a lot less heinous than the constant playing of the Nazi/Hitler card (which occcured again in 59 and 68 (I also find it interesting how people deny they are comparing Bush to Hitler or the American people to the Nazis in the midst of making that very comparison).

    As for where I disagree with Bush: Mostly economic stuff (tax cuts should be bigger and focused more on the middle class), budgets (reduce gov’t spending instead of increase it), troop levels in Iraq (should be higher) – a few more things.

    I’ll let y’all have the last word if y’all want. But realize: The Patriot act does not create a totalitarian government, the press is freer than it has been at any point in the past, civil liberties are not being violated, we are winning the war on terror despite what the media tells us, and Noam Chomsky was an apologist for Pol Pot, Stalin and other totalitarians (thus, anyone who takes him seriously is not to be trusted with a sense of perspective).

    And to claim we are in the most indoctrinated country ever also betrays a lack of perspective. The Road to Serfdom or Totalitarianism comes from the left rather than the right. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot – all liberals, all came from the left wing of their political systems.

    Yet do I claim Harry Reid is “on the path to totalitarinism” because of his blatant demogoguery – or that Michael Moore’s lies and half-truths are part of a campaign to rob us of our freedoms and we are hanging ourselves with ropes because we lionize him?

    No, becuase I reconize the demogoguery of the current left as part of the noise of democracy. It’s what happens. It isn’t any part of a slippery slope to midnight raids and concentration camps, at all. To steal a quote from another context, “Democracy is messy”. Get used to it.

  66. Ivan,

    Again, I don’t care that the US is really free right now. I don’t care that democracy reigns supreme with liberty and justice for all. Well, of course I care, but I don’t care for the purposes of this discussion. It’s irrelevant to my point.

    My discussion has nothing to do with where we are. It is focused on where we are going.

    I merely objected to basing our national and societal policy on paranoia and fear because of what those sentiments have historically led to.

    People just assume that because the USA has been going strong for a couple hundred years, it’s just going to automatically keep on going that way for the next two hundred. They act like American liberty is an irrevocable fact.

    It isn’t. It is fragile and could easily be completely ruined in a mere twenty years. It has happened repeatedly in the past and it could happen again.

    That’s why I arguing that times are good right now is irrelevant and pointless. I am wary of the seeds we are sowing and that alone is what my arguments was directed toward.

    P.S.

    Hitler was a right winger who rose to power by playing off of popular fears of the Communist party. It’s hard to take you seriously Ivan when you get some pretty basic historical arguments wrong. The Nazis where nationalist reactionaries, not socialists.

    Oh yeah, Saddam Hussein came from the right of the political spectrum too.

  67. Seth -

    it’s hard to take someone seriously who thinks that a member of the National Socialist party, who did not believe in Christianity (but instead was fascinated with pagan religions), who was a vegetarian on moral grounds, and who felt that marriage was outdated and people should experiment with alternative sexual arrangements was a right winger. Hitler was a leftist, through and through. But the claim Hitler was a conservative is one of the great triumphs of leftist propoganda.

    Also, I disagree with basing our national and societal policy on paranoia and fear

    because our current USA policy is not based on paranoia and fear – it’s based on the facts of an enemy willing to kill us at any cost.

    However, the left wing does seem to be controlled by paranoia (of Bush’s policies) and fear (of the political right), so I guess I can grant you something there.

  68. Davis, as someone who is pursuing just such a career course (ideally the DI, although possibly the DO), and as a Mormon, your comments interest me greatly. I too have spent time asking those very questions. In response to the questions in #48:

    1. I’m embarrassed to admit, actually, that this issue didn’t come to mind. In fact, I just finished Baer’s See No Evil and it never once crossed my mind. I guess I just assumed that it’s part of the work. I think there are many similar issues in the military – dropping bombs on a military target in which civilians may be present, for example. I suppose it’s in circumstances such as these that issues which are normally evil become a necessary evil for the greater good. When issues of national security are involved, I think we move toward an utilitarian ethic.

    There are, of course, limits, but the question remains as to their location. Would lying and “using people†be too great a moral price to pay to capture Osama bin Ladan? Most would say probably not. How mild do the effects have to be before it goes from necessary evil to just plain evil? More importantly, how would you ever know beforehand what value the intelligence brought forth by an agent would be?

    2. Continuing the above line of thought, there is also a problem shared by both the prospect of individual moral ills as well as the moral ills of the operation or organization as a whole: that is the problem of the information we personally hold. I am extremely hesitant to make any claim about the morality of the CIA, whether it be good or bad, because one thing that I am absolutely sure of is that, whatever I know about a given situation, there is much more that I don’t know. I cannot call an operation moral because who knows what is lurking beneath? And I similarly cannot call on operation immoral because, again, who knows what else is going on behind the scenes? I refuse to make any judgment about any person or organization until I’ve heard their side of the story. The problem with the CIA is, we almost never really hear their side of the story.

    I think what all of this boils down to is trust. As is evident in the discussion above, some people believe the federal government is acting in the best interest of its people, and others don’t. Because there is so much information we don’t have, it’s nearly impossible to prove either side. What makes it all even harder is that the government is not one person. Many thousands of people are involved in the decisions which we lay upon “the government†and many of these people are moral and many of them are not, most of them are somewhere in between. Baer’s book shows, from one perspective at least, that there are indeed many people in the CIA who work primarily out of self-interest, but also that there are people who are genuinely concerned about what’s right.

    I personally think that things are getting better. I think the CIA had a good moment for some honest introspection on 9/11, and I think things are changing. Baer mentions that had he gone into management, he might have been able to make a difference and I tend to believe him. One thing is absolutely certain, however. If moral people walk away from government positions, the problems are only going to get worse.

  69. Seth R. (71)
    It’s hard to take you seriously Seth when you get some pretty basic historical arguments wrong. You called Hitler a nationalist and a conservative. I would like to point out that according to my A.P. European History text book, Western Civilization: Comprehensive Volume by Jackson J. Spielvogel, nationalists were liberals.

  70. Digo -

    as I said in 72. Hitler also believed in state control of the economy and in keeping guns out of the hands of the populace. Sounds like a conservative to me (not).

  71. Being “right wing” in a world history context means more than it does in a US history context. The Nazis are generally considered to have been right-wing nationalists. The Communist revolutionaries were considered to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum in early twentieth century Europe.

    Ivan,

    Sorry for the cheap shot. I need to be a bit more civil today.

  72. I have one response to Ivan’s claim that Nazism (which banned abortion and jailed, persecuted and executed homosexuals and communists, as well as Jews (who were generally on the left of the political spectrum)) was itself a far left phenomenon, and to his suggestion that anyone who disagrees with his perspective on this point “is hard to take … seriously”.

    My response is “I disagree.”

    I have one response to Ivan’s continuous suggestions on this and other threads that anyone who passionately disagrees with this republican Administration and Congress must be a captive of the evil, pernicious, and partisan political left:

    My response is “I disagree.”

    Each time, in the future, any of these such suggestions is made, you may assume I have responded, simply, “I disagree”. My failure to engage further on these points should not be taken as agreement or acquiesence.

    (In other words, I am agreeing to disagree.)

  73. Ivan in #71,

    Noam Chomsky was an apologist for Pol Pot, Stalin and other totalitarians (thus, anyone who takes him seriously is not to be trusted with a sense of perspective).

    And to claim we are in the most indoctrinated country ever also betrays a lack of perspective. The Road to Serfdom or Totalitarianism comes from the left rather than the right. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot – all liberals, all came from the left wing of their political systems.

    I assume you are referring to my earlier comment. You must be very wise to not trust me with a sense of perspective as I take Chomsky seriously (he has been called the greatest intellect of our time by the New York Times). Perhaps I should trust you instead (have you ever been called the greatest intellect of our time by the New York Times?

    Chomsky has never been an apologist for Pol Pot or Stalin. You would have to provide some cold hard facts to back up your bold statements. Show me where he has been an apologist for Pol Pot and Stalin. As I recall, he decried Pol Pot’s atrocities and criticized US policy of supporting his government’s appointment of a seat at the UN just after the killing fields.

    So we aren’t indoctrinated are we? Again, you can’t trust me and you’d advise others not to trust me for making a statement like that. To me, the fact that you don’t see the USA as a heavily indoctrinated country is proof that you are thoroughly indoctrinated yourself. How else can the most free nation in the world be so obedient to power and wealth? We need to be more indoctrinated than totalitarian societies so that we can be controlled. What indoctrination doesn’t do in totalitarian societies, force and oppression achieve. We’re not allowed to do that here, so indoctrination has to do the job. I’d recommend, “Necessary Illusions” by Chomsky for fully documented and irrefutable proof of our indoctrination.

  74. Curtis:
    http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/21/may03/chomsky.htm

    read the whole thing, but some excerpts:

    When the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975 both Chomsky and the New Left welcomed it. And when news emerged of the extraordinary event that immediately followed, the complete evacuation of the capital Phnom Penh accompanied by reports of widespread killings, Chomsky offered a rationalization similar to those he had provided for the terror in China and Vietnam: there might have been some violence, but this was understandable under conditions of regime change and social revolution . . . By this time, however, there were two other books published on Cambodia that took a very different line. The American authors John Barron and Anthony Paul called their work Murder of a Gentle Land and accused the Pol Pot regime of mass killings that amounted to genocide. François Ponchaud’s Cambodia Year Zero repeated the charge.

    Chomsky reviewed both books, together with a number of press articles, in The Nation in June 1977. He accused them of publishing little more than anti-communist propaganda . . .

    Chomsky was this regime’s most prestigious and most persistent Western apologist. Even as late as 1988, when they were forced to admit in their book Manufacturing Consent that Pol Pot had committed genocide against his own people, Chomsky and Herman still insisted they had been right to reject the journalists and authors who had initially reported the story. The evidence that became available after the Vietnamese invasion of 1979, they maintained, did not retrospectively justify the reports they had criticized in 1977.

    They were still adamant that the United States, who they claimed started it all, bore the brunt of the blame. In short, Chomsky still refused to admit how wrong he had been over Cambodia.

    what else?

    you could read this book:
    http://www.townhall.com/opinion/books_entertainment/reviews/TimObryhim/140855.html

    But I’ve already seen no one really wants to debate this. Most posters are interested in proclaiming they “see the real truth” about Bush and are therefore more enlightened than us poor, deluded conservatives.

    If it makes you happy, I guess. But I can’t see how rabid Bush hate and the fear mongering of the left makes one happy.

  75. I should add I don’t think the right is free of faults. Extreme Fundamentalism comes from the right wing, so it’s not that I think the left is the only source of totalitarian type governments.

    DavidH-

    Okay. I agree to disagree as well.

  76. Seth R. -

    Oh, don’t worry about the cheap shot (I actually didn’t notice it). It’s not like I’m free of that particular default. It’s all good. I think this discussion has gone about as far as it can.

  77. Ivan, I did not confuse you with Geoff B. The “offended Muslim†reference was a little gibe at your disproportionate response to a harmless cartoon. I mentioned his name along with yours in comment 56 because he too likes to pose as a moderate voice, and then apply the extremist label to those he disagrees with. For example, using the phrase “environmental terrorists†to imply that the great majority of scientists who accept global warming are little better than the ETF. Or just the other day when his fertile imagination conjured up a hypothetical in which Howard Dean might be discovered to have committed rape, when there is no evidence to indicate this would be any more likely the case for Gov. Dean, than for Gov. Romney.

    Now in comment 70 you inform us that Harry Reid is a blatant demagogue. Let’s see how his record compares to your champion, Lieberman.

    Lieberman

    Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 40% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
    Rated 25% by the US COC, indicating an anti-business voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 50% by CURE, indicating mixed votes on rehabilitation. (Dec 2000)
    Rated 86% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 0% by the Christian Coalition: an anti-family voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 36% by CATO, indicating a mixed record on trade issues. (Dec 2002)
    Rated 10% by SANE, indicating a pro-military voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 100% by the AFL-CIO, indicating a pro-labor voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 15% by NTU, indicating a “Big Spender” on tax votes. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 100% by the ARA, indicating a pro-senior voting record. (Dec 2003)

    Reid

    Rated 29% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 40% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
    Rated 35% by the US COC, indicating a mixed business voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 50% by CURE, indicating mixed votes on rehabilitation. (Dec 2000)
    Rated 91% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 16% by the Christian Coalition: an anti-family voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 17% by CATO, indicating a pro-fair trade voting record. (Dec 2002)
    Rated 100% by SANE, indicating a pro-peace voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 100% by the AFL-CIO, indicating a pro-labor voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 17% by NTU, indicating a “Big Spender” on tax votes. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 90% by the ARA, indicating a pro-senior voting record. (Dec 2003)

    The only appreciable differences between the two are on abortion and the War in Iraq (also not listed here on gun control) and on two of those three issues Sen. Reid is the more conservative. I have the sneaking suspicion that you thought Tom Daschle was a demagogue too, and that had Sen. Lieberman been elected the minority leader, he might have become one for you as well.

  78. Bill –

    ?????

    I’ve been looking through my recent comments and I can’t find what you claim I said. Offended by the cartoons? I can’t find it.

    I do kinda like Lieberman, but you’re the first person to mention him in this thread. I’ve hardly ever trumpted my apparent
    admiration for him. The most I’ve said (in other threads) is I might have considered voting for him over Bush (but I wasn’t sure, since he didn’t run against Bush because the hard left of the Democratic party refused to allow any moderates to win the primaries).

    As for the cartoon comment – I really have no idea what you’re referring to. I’ve reread all my comments three times and can’t find it. Can you show me where I did it? This isn’t for debate – it’s for curiosity. I must be slipping, since I can’t find it and don’t recall saying it.

  79. Ivan, not that you were offended my the Mohammed cartoons, but that you were offended by the cartoon I linked to. Ok, I agree, it was a stupid joke.

  80. Anonymous,

    Please don’t threadjack this discussion about Noam Chomsky and Bush-as-Nazi to discuss the moral ambiguity of working for the CIA.

  81. Geoff #69,
    you said:

    Terrorist wars are much different. Remember 9/11 and the intifada? Terrorist wars involve the deliberate targetting of civilian targets as a way of spreading fear. This was not the tactic of the Contras, and in fact the tactic was the opposite. Once again, your sources are incorrect.

    Well then, you’ll have to argue with my sources then, and not me. The following excerpts from my sources show clearly that the CIA encouraged and trained the Contra’s to attack civilian targets and that it was indeed their tactic to attack civilian targets. Geoff, your assertions are false again. Since you are so bent upon discrediting everything I say about Nicaragua and posting your version of the truth, here is an example of the tactic of the Contra’s that you seem to be in denial of:

    On the contras’ mission to attack “soft targets,” see for example, Fred Kaplan, “U.S. general says contra chances improving,” Boston Globe, May 20, 1987, p. 9. An excerpt:

    “Gen. John Galvin, leader of the U.S. southern command, told a House subcommittee yesterday that the contra rebels fighting to overthrow the Nicaraguan government have a better chance of winning than they did just a few months ago and attributed his growing optimism to the contras’ new strategy of attacking civilian targets instead of soldiers.”

    “Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere subcommittee, Galvin said, “The contras have a fighting chance if we sustain them” with continued military aid. “It’s getting better. In the past few months, I’m more hopeful than I was before.” Asked after the hearing what the contras have achieved the past few months, Galvin replied, “Lots of victories. They’re going after soft targets. They’re not trying to duke it out with the Sandinistas directly.”

    Then there’s this:

    Julia Preston, “Rebels Still Seeking a Win,” Washington Post, September 8, 1987, p. A1 (quoting a U.S. military analyst that the contras are “‘still going after small, soft targets,’ like farmers’ cooperatives”); Editorial, “America’s Guilt — Or Default,” New York Times, July 1, 1986, p. A22 (noting that the World Court ruled unanimously “that the C.I.A.’s manual encouraging ‘contra’ attacks on civilians breached humanitarian principles”); Julia Preston, “Contras Burn Clinic During Raid on Village,” Washington Post, March 7, 1987, p. A25 (reporting that the contras, “reportedly in high spirits and outfitted by the C.I.A.,” among other things “burned down a church-sponsored health clinic that had been the pride of the community” in the isolated Nicaraguan village of Tapasle); Ellen V.P. Wells, “Letter,” New York Times, December 31, 1988, section 1, p. 22 (describing a contra attack on a coffee-harvesting cooperative, in which two people were killed, the coffee equipment was ruined, and ten houses and a health clinic were destroyed).

    For additional accounts of contra atrocities, see Reed Brody [Assistant Attorney General of New York State], Contra Terror in Nicaragua — Report of a Fact-finding Mission: September 1984-January 1985, Boston: South End, 1985. This book reprints 150 affidavits and 140 pages of testimony gathered in a fact-finding mission conducted in the early 1980s, the results of which were independently corroborated by the Washington Office on Latin America, a private church-supported human rights organization, and other human rights organizations.

    Then there are books like this from someone who was there and experienced something apparently much different than what you experienced Geoff:

    Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra Wars
    by Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne

    “The war’s opening salvo was the bombing of a Nicaraguan plane in Mexico City by US-backed contras, the plane Dunbar-Ortiz would have been on were it not for a delay. This disarming closeness to the fraught history of the US/Nicaraguan relationship shapes Dunbar-Ortiz’s narrative, bringing uncomfortably present the decade-long dirty war that the Reagan administration pursued in Nicaragua against civilian and soldier alike.”

    “While her rich political analysis of this history bears the mark of a trained historian, she also writes from her perspective as an intrepid activist who spent months at a time throughout the 1980s in the war-torn country, especially in the remote Mosquitia region where the indigenous Miskitu people were viciously assailed and nearly wiped out by CIA-trained contra mercenaries.”

  82. Ivan #79,
    That’s not what I asked for Ivan. I’ve seen too many critics of Chomsky misrepresent him and take his commentary out of context. If you want to produce credible evidence that Chomsky was a Pol Pot apologist, or a Stalin Apologist, you have to show me the words that Chomsky said. I care nothing for what Chomsky’s critics say.

  83. Curtis -
    when you care nothing for what the critics say, you are doing the academic equvialent of putting your hands over your ears and singing la la la la.

    The critics did not take his words out of context, but instead merely quoted the things Chomsky’s supporters like to pretend he never said.

  84. Ivan,
    I want evidence. Critics slanderings are not evidence. Do not slander the man without providing evidence please.
    If all you do is to listen to his critics and not read his words yourself, you are the one going lalalala.

  85. Curtis -

    I think this has gone about as far as it can go, but:

    The critics I linked to make ample use of his words, and they don’t take them out of context.

    I have read plenty of Chomsky in my time (he’s a prophet of sorts among far left academia so many of my professors require him). Chomsky is a far, far, far left idealouge who doesn’t let facts get in the way of promoting his agenda. The fact that he is completely brillant just makes it worse: all that intellect wasted on the alter of far leftism.

  86. Do not slander the man without providing evidence please.

    I’m trying to imagine what a slander with evidence looks like.

  87. Ivan,
    Yes, I suppose this conversation is at an end. I disagree with the links you provided entirely. Again, I assert that Chomsky is often taken out of context and blown way out of proportion. He is not a hippocrite as far as I can tell and I’ve read quite a bit of his stuff.
    Here is a thorough rebuttal to the link you provided above:

    http://www.zmag.org/ZMag/articles/albertnov97.htm

    and here is Chomsky’s own words on the Pol Pot/Cambodia stuff.

    http://www.zmag.org/forums/chomcambodforum.htm

    There, he was not a Pol Pot apologist after all. I wish I could say the same for the Bush apologists (oops, I shouldn’t say that in this crowd should I).

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