Saturday, February 21, 2015

        How to deal with terrorism.

At the end of his three-day summit on how to deal with terrorism, Pres. Obama recommended that we be tolerant, that we support democracy, and respect human rights.
It is difficult to resist the impulse to say: "Look who's talking." This president has conducted a war in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. The United States was a leader in the bombing of Libya, and is now a leader in the bombing of Syria and parts of Iraq. The United States is not in a position to recommend tolerance. Given the sorts of friends we have such as the president of Egypt or the king of Saudi Arabia or Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel our support for democracy is, to say the least, beset by ambiguities.
In another portion of his message, Pres. Obama recommended that we take seriously the alienation of many young men both in the US and in Europe. Here is a picture of the young men who have trouble finding work, who are not respected, who are oppressed by the local police force, having resort to murder and terrorism. Were President Bush and his cronies alienated and therefore they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan? Are the members of Congress alienated who regularly vote to allow the military adventures of our governments, and to lavishly finance the military?
The president of the United States any day of the week kills more people than all the terrorists together.
The entire presentation is hypocritical. We are the largest purveyor of violence in the world and we point a finger at young Muslim men in Europe or perhaps young black men in the United States? This hypocrisy is not only morally objectionable, but we have no hope of dealing with the enormous amount of violence in this world if we insist on misrepresenting it.
For 2015 our government expects to spend $550 billion on "defense." A country that spends more than half its national budget on military equipment and soldiers should not point fingers at violent young men in the inner cities. It is hypocritical, it is a really bad joke, and it shows a will to be untruthful and a refusal to regard violence in the world realistically.
These misrepresentations completely ignore that America is drunk on violence. A good deal of our entertainment in films and computer games is violent to a bizarre extent. One of the standards of masculine virtue is to be violent on the football field and if possible give the other guy a good concussion. Familiar statistics tell us that one in four women will in her lifetime be sexually harassed or raped. Violence within families has reached epidemic proportions. Most Americans take that in their stride but when two policemen in New York, or a few journalists in Paris are murdered everybody is completely outraged.
Our nation is deeply divided over rights to carry weapons whose only purpose is to make violence more lethal. Every year 30,000 Americans die from gun violence. When toddlers accidentally shoot themselves, or women who wear a gun in their bra commit involuntary suicide, no one questions whether we are not profoundly on the wrong path.
Violence permeates our schools. In spite of a great deal of discussion and different programs, bullying continues and guns find their ways into schools.
But we continue to point the finger of blame at "terrorists."
That just makes no sense at all.
Any reflection about terrorism and how to deal with it, that does not begin by facing our own addiction to violence is bound to fail. As long as we go around and sound off about the violence committed by the Islamic State or Boko Haram and act as if we were peaceful lambs, the downward spiral of violence will continue. We will be attacked more frequently and we will go around bombing more and more civilians.
A great deal of the fault for violence in the world lies with us. Until we admit that and until we raise the question whether we want to continue spending too much money on the military, and continue having bases all over the world, and whether it is acceptable to go around attacking people with airplanes and drones in many countries, nothing will change. Windbags, hypocrites, and people who refuse to think about what is going on in the world will continue to confuse the issue.
Very many very innocent people will continue to die.

Monday, February 16, 2015


You call this democracy?


With the beginning of the new year we look forward to a national legislature resembling nothing as much as a married couple about to enter a really ugly divorce. Cooperation has ceased a long time ago. The only kind of conversations consist of bickering, of trading insults, of making absurd accusations that blame the other for what they are clearly not responsible for. The analogy breaks down only because Democrats and Republicans cannot get divorced.
The history of this disastrous impasse is clearly complicated. It involves the fact that ours is a capitalist democracy where political parties act as if they were competing businesses, striving for power to make the other party ineffective. It involves the rapid development of different ways of communicating and the development of complex skills of manipulating information, misleading the public, making criminals appear to be benefactors of the public, and real heroes to be threats to public security. It involves the logic of representative democracy where common people are really sidelined and the country is run by a political class. Democracy is transformed into an oligarchy.
One element in this gradual decay of democratic institutions is our misunderstanding of what democracy should be. The most common account of our democracy asserts that ordinary citizens wield their political power by selecting representatives. If representatives do not promote the projects dear to the voters, they are punished by not being reelected. Central to democracy are elections. They are supposed to be the mechanisms through which common people express their opinions about policies they want the government to adopt. Democracy is about shared decision-making. Hence democracy works out to be a free-for-all between people who think differently about a wide range of issues from welfare, to gun control, to foreign wars, to the treatment of homosexuals. And on and on.
What has been lost in this focus on elections is a simple truth. Democracy does not consist of ordinary people running their country's affairs. It consists of ordinary people running their country's affair together. By focusing on elections, our idea of democracy is all about opinions and, more specifically, about differences of opinions. But differences of opinions are completely paralyzing unless the people who are different know how to cooperate in spite of their differences of opinion.
Only as cooperation is democracy a feasible project. As we see in our present experience and as, I fear, we will see much more clearly day in and day out for the next few years, where elections and different opinions are in the center of so-called democratic institutions, what you get is really an oligarchy. Where different parties fight for the power to impose their ideas on others, the project is a coercive one. The majority gathers its strength to coerce the minority. The democratic promise of allowing everybody to participate in governing – even if only minimally – is broken. Instead the conservatives dominate the progressives, or vice versa. The center of what we call democracy is domination.
A genuine democracy prizes cooperation. It values especially highly cooperation between those who disagree quite fiercely with each other. There are places where pro-life and pro-choice women manage to cooperate on sex education or adoption services projects even though they continue to disagree about the morality of abortion. These groups provide a small part of a foundation for real democracy. They trust each other, they work together. They thereby make it much more difficult to consider forcing the other into positions they find unacceptable.
Democracy is not primarily about voting. It is primarily about people working together in spite of serious differences, in spite of serious disagreements, in spite of the blatant inequities of everyday life in America today.
It takes more than goodwill to promote that sort of cooperation. It takes a good deal of hard work, of very difficult conversations, of joint projects which fail, of being hopeful in spite of real frustrations at the difficulties of overcoming the divisions in our society. The project begins with civility, with foreswearing insults of one's opponents, of voicing one's ugliest suspicions of the other as proven facts, of blaming one's opponents for all sorts of misdeeds. Democracy, as cooperation, begins with being respectful of one's opponents.
If that is not difficult enough – think of being respectful of Wall Street traders who invented subpar mortgages packaged as investment instruments – the next undertaking--having real cooperative projects with people you tend not to trust--is even more difficult. But it is clearly essential.
Until we put major efforts into such cooperations, we should stop bragging about our democracy and instead go to work trying to restore it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Humility


The Polish parliament adopted a European convention opposed to family violence, which includes recommendations for what children should be taught about equality between men and women. In a very bitter debate many parliamentarians objected that teaching children the equality of men and women goes against traditional family values, against established ideas about the different roles of men and women. Many of these objections were based on what were thought to be Catholic values. Equality between the sexes was seen to violate religious teachings.
I thought that was really interesting because it showed that Islam has no special place in the war of men against women. Catholicism can hold its own. It made me wonder whether newspapers in Yemen or in Pakistan constantly reported about priestly child abuse, as our papers continue to report so-called "honor killings."
If you are a Protestant this story may reinforce your detestation of Catholicism. But thinking about that reminded me of the slave castles on the Atlantic coast of Ghana. There slave traders erected massive stone buildings to hold black men and women for shipment to the New World. The ground floor was taken up by a large dungeon crowded with future slaves. On the first floor, right above the dungeon, was the chapel where the Dutch Reformed slave traders sang their hymns in praise of God and thanked him for purging them of sin.
Secularists may want to bolster their case from all these narratives. But the Soviet governments that committed genocide against their own people were devoted secularists. Cruelty to other groups of human beings is not limited to practitioners of different religions. The Nazis had no religious commitments.
Can we learn anything from these horror stories?
It seems to me that male chauvinism, child abuse, vicious racial prejudice, and genocide all are committed by people who are self-righteous, consider themselves better than others, privileged and deserving their privilege – in short people deficient in humility. Men are lacking in humility who believe that it is their role to be the dominant force in the family and in the world, to control resources, make decisions, lay down the law and, where necessary, enforce it violently. Many different religions suffer from the same shortcoming. Secularists are notorious for believing that they are superior to religious persons.
We must understand what humility is.
The humble are prepared to recognize their limits and shortcomings. They can admit those because they have a good sense of what they know and what their competences are. We should not confuse that clear-eyed awareness of what one is and is not able to do of the humble with people who are constantly apologizing, often for what they are not responsible for. Humility is quite different from low self-esteem.
Humility thinks critically. Not for them the credulity of those who consistently distrust themselves. Many people believe what they hear on Fox News, or in other places that promote distrust of established wisdom. The humble trust their own intelligence and use it to form their own opinions. They well know that they may make mistakes but trust themselves to repair those.
Humility respects outstanding accomplishments. But, unlike many people, it does not automatically salute persons in authority – elected officials, doctors, law enforcement, military authorities, ministers. Humility requires both trust in oneself and the willingness to incur responsibility for making mistakes.
Humility is different from the false modesty of many people who secretly believe that they are as good as human beings come, they work hard, they are sexually continent, they are never loud, or drink to excess. They do their duty day-in, day-out-- all the while quietly congratulating themselves for not being like those people – African-Americans in the US, Irishmen in Britain, Greeks and Turks in Germany, Palestinians in Israel, etc.
Aware of what they are good at and where they tend to fail, the humble do not need to bolster their self-respect by looking down on other groups, usually stereotyped.
Humility is especially in short supply in the US. Our position in the world is that of the richest and most powerful people the world has ever seen. Our leaders keep telling us that we must maintain our position of superior power. We are the leaders of the first world. We look down on "old Europe," not to mention on the "developing world," while we marvel at their incompetence.
But that attitude, as the controversy in the Polish parliament illustrates, produces terrible injustices. The attitude that we know what's right, that we do what's right, and therefore can lord it over others, has for long done great harm to women, to children, to Africans destined to be sold as slaves, to Armenians or Jews. Lack of humility, a prominent characteristic of citizens of the US, is the cover for a good deal of brutality in this world.

Friday, January 30, 2015


2015


Here are some of our domestic issues that we bring along unresolved from the year that ended: the minimum wage, immigration, police conduct, Obama care. These are not our only problems but they are important ones.
You notice immediately their common element: racial conflict is important in each case. Many Americans imagine all poor people as persons of color. The minimum wage conflict affects poor people the most. Immigrants are largely nonwhite. Conflict about police conduct centers on the treatment of black people by white policeman. Obama care has to do with the racially tinged opposition to his programs.
As we begin 2015, we encounter the old nightmare of the United States – the conflict between whites and persons of color, more specifically African-Americans.
It is tempting to respond with some good advice to ourselves and our fellow citizens. We may admonish ourselves not to be prejudiced, not to believe stories that whites tell about Blacks that have no foundation in fact. We may remind ourselves of the signal contributions to our national culture made by African-Americans.
That sort of advice, though often repeated, has proven useless. We are as deeply divided by racial animosity as we ever were. These common bits of advice completely misunderstand the powerful and dark forces that keep racial conflict alive.
There is nothing the matter with pre-judging persons. We cannot avoid pre-judging. When you need help clearing the leaves in your yard in the fall, and some young fellow offers to do the work for you at a reasonable price, you need to decide whether to trust him to do a decent job even though you don't know him at all. You look him over, you listen to how he talks and you decide that he is trustworthy. But that is, of course a prejudice because you don't know this person and you just go on the little bit of information you have about him, how he looks, how he talks. Perhaps you consider his clothes or the vehicle he came in. But you still prejudge him.
It is not useful, either, to admonish people not to judge others on the basis of poorly documented stories. It is totally astonishing what bizarre stories people believe when they defend their prejudices, say, against welfare recipients. The fact that some of those accounts are complete fabrications makes no difference to people who believe that every welfare recipient is a lazy cheat. No mountains of evidence will change their mind.
In racial and other conflicts, truth is not really at issue.
Racial prejudice is fueled by emotion, by fear or anger. It does not have a lot to do with the facts and statistics and real histories of African-American or of white families. It does not have a lot to do with who did what to whom. Discussing real history is pretty irrelevant to moderating racial animosities.
We need to face up to these often very deep-seated emotions. Here we can only make a brief beginning.
Supposed that a black family buys the house next to mine. My first reaction is panic. I feel threatened, I am afraid the value of my house will go down. Then I feel thoroughly ashamed of myself. I remind myself that all I know about my new neighbors is that their skin is darker than mine.
I try to imagine their feelings. Are they frightened? Are they afraid for their children, remembering Emmett Till or the four young girls killed in the bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama church?
When I meet them, I am civil and welcoming. I try not to be excessively friendly, thereby showing how acutely I am aware of the difference in skin color between myself and them, while I'm pretending not to notice it at all, as white anti-racists, like myself, often do. Relations are uncomfortable until my new neighbors cease being the black couple next door and become the unique individuals that I know and like as my neighbors. I may also not like them very much; they may not like me. But now we are known to each other and the emotion of the first encounters subsides.
One strand in racial conflict is the fear of people we do not know. Racial conflict is fueled not by the relations between races but by my, and your unease in the world. It is easy for us to be afraid not of known threats, but of unknown persons who, we fear, are a danger to us. One source of racial conflict is our perception that the world is extremely dangerous and we are barely able, if at all, to survive in it.
Why does our world seem so precarious and threatening? White people may well feel guilty for their treatment of the descendants of African slaves. But we too have been badly treated. We have been bullied and made fun off as children. We have been neglected and abused. We have been victims of many different forms of violence. We grow up excessively aware of possible threats to our well-being, always expecting to be harmed by strangers as well as by people we are close to.
Our world overflows with violence leaving us fearful, always prepared to encounter threats, coercion and humiliations. That leaves us unsure of ourselves; it also leaves us with a reservoir overflowing with anger. Prejudice against persons of color (or those who are “white”), against the opposite gender, against folks speaking poor English, against those with different religious practices from ours—all are welcome opportunities to unload some of that anger. We transfer the violence and humiliation we experience on to others.
Racial conflict is an aspect of this circuit of violence—someone excites our rage with violence and we visit that anger on someone else. Racial dissension will remain an important part of our lives until we manage to construct a less violent society.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Free Speech Confusions


The murder of French journalists that worked on the magazine Charlie Hebdo is totally unacceptable.
Public reactions, as reported in the media, seem perplexed in the face of such violent anger at cartoonists lampooning Islam and Muslims. But why is such anger so difficult to understand? Suppose the targets were Jews, African-Americans, or women victims of rape? Suppose the targets were Americans? What would public opinion in the US be if Charlie Hebdo had published cartoons about 9/11 or about the Marathon Bombing in Boston?
Surely, in that case, our anger would also been violent. But in our Western context killing people who do not imminently threaten your life is clearly wrong whether you are offended by what they say, about how they conduct themselves, or what they stand for. It is also against the law. ( Here we begin thinking about Michael Brown in Ferguson or Eric Garner. The parallels with the present case are thought provoking.)
Some public reactions reminded us that it is good to laugh, even at sacred cows. But what if the sacred cow is something that moves you deeply, that you treat with the utmost respect, that is as close to your heart as anything?
A lot of people talk as if these murders had to do with free speech. The First Amendment has to do with efforts on the part of the government to squelch critical opinions. We regard that as illegal. But we regard it as illegal only under carefully limited conditions. You may not, under penalty of the law, shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater where there is no fire.
In recent years we have adopted laws against “hate speech,” against speech that incites to violence, against speech that humiliates and insults persons for being women, Black, disabled, Native American.
But, if you think about this for a moment, you can see how difficult these matters are. On the one hand, we want to be able to utter opinions even if they are unpopular, even if they offend powerful persons.
Consider the case of Steven Salaita, appointed last summer to a teaching job at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champain. In the last moment, Salaita was informed that the Chancellor would not submit this appointment to the Board of Trustees as bureaucratic rules demanded. The reason: Prof. Salaita had tweeted intemperately during the latest attack on Gaza by the Israelis. Since the leadership of the University of Illinois disapproved of these tweets, the job offer to Prof. Salaita was withdrawn.
Most people—unless they were fanatic Zionists—would react with outrage to this case because we believe that citizens should be able to express their political opinions even if the opinion or the passion with which the opinion was expressed offends others. We should all be able to say what we believe, as long as doing so does not incite to violence or produce imminent harm in some other, serious way. We should not be punished with unemployment for our political views.
But now think of Rep. Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, who in 2002 addressed a meeting of a group associated with the KKK. A number of people have recently criticized him for this. He has apologized, but the Congressional Black Caucus, among other groups, is not satisfied with that. Giving a speech to a white supremacist group that has, for a very long time harassed, including lynched, African-Americans certainly gives the appearance of taking sides with the white supremacists against Black citizens. An elected Congressional Representative should represent all voters in his district, not only the supremacist whites.
Here the inclination is obviously to censor a political stand taken by a politician. They too have the right to express their opinions freely but, on the other hand, since they are elected to represent all voters in their district we expect them to use good judgment in choosing their associates, including what groups to address.
Considering these two cases, side by side, shows very clearly how fraught with controversy and uncertainty free speech issues are. We want speech about politics, religion, matters sexual to be protected. But we also want everyone to be thoughtful and restrained in using those rights. While abuse of free speech rights does not license killing anyone, of course, Americans have always been quite willing to persecute and prosecute people whose political opinions they regarded as potentially harmful to the survival of our republic.
In 1947, a number of screenwriters refused to testify before the House Un-American Affairs Committee trying to find out about Communist influence in Hollywood. One of them, Dalton Trumbo, who authored several Oscar-winning films, lost his job in Hollywood. His political position was punished by taking his job away. During those years, that appeared perfectly acceptable because the country was in the grip of a hysterical fear of Communists and “subversives.” Ten years or so later, firing Trumbo seemed to many liberals an abuse of free speech rights and Trumbo was reinstated.
Questions of free speech are complicated and in many cases, most of us have difficulties deciding whether a certain speech was justified or should be suppressed. Our assessment often depends on the affiliations of the person making a judgment as well as, as Trumbo's experiences show, on the most powerful public opinion of the moment.
But it, of course, also depends on who the target of political speech is. Charlie Hebdo made fun of “muslims.” But there are no muslims-in-general. In France where they constitute about 5 – 6% of the population and a sizable number of them are French citizens, they tend to be poor, unemployed and uneducated at much higher rates than white French citizens. They are, in other words, a vulnerable group.
One would have thought that they deserve some extra protection against being publicly ridiculed. They deserve protections even if groups of “radical” Islamists commit murder in their name.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


2015
As we begin a new year, we make a list of the problems we carry along. Here are some of our domestic issues that we bring along unresolved from the year that ended: the minimum wage, immigration, police conduct, Obama care. These are not our only problems but they are important once.
You notice immediately the common element in all of these difficulties: racial conflict is important in each case. Many Americans imagine all poor people as persons of color. The minimum wage conflict affects poor people the most. Immigrants are largely nonwhite. Conflict about police conduct centers on the treatment of black people by white policeman. Obama care has to do with Obama and the opposition to his programs is racially tinged.
As we begin 2015, we encounter the old nightmare of the United States – the conflict between whites and persons of color, more specifically of African-Americans.
It is tempting to respond with some good advice to ourselves and our fellow citizens. We may admonish ourselves not to be prejudiced, not to believe stories that whites tell about Blacks that have no foundation in fact. We may remind ourselves of the signal contributions to our national culture may by African-Americans.
That sort of advice has often been repeated but it has proven useless. We are as deeply divided by racial animosity as we ever were. These common bits of advice completely misunderstand the powerful and dark forces that keep racial conflict alive.
There is nothing the matter with pre-judging persons. We cannot avoid pre-judging. When you need help clearing the leaves in your yard in the fall, and some young fellow offers to do the work for you at a reasonable price, you need to decide whether to trust him to do a decent job even though you don't know him at all. You look him over, you listen to how he talks and you decide that he is trustworthy. But that is, of course a prejudice because you don't know this person and you just go on the little bit of information you have about him, how he looks, how he talks. Perhaps you consider his clothes or the vehicle he came in. But you still prejudge him.
It is not useful, either, to admonish people not to judge others on the basis of poorly documented stories. It is totally astonishing what bizarre stories people believe when they defend their prejudice, say, against welfare recipients. The fact that some of those accounts are complete fabrications makes no difference to people who believe that every welfare recipient is a lazy cheat. No mountains of evidence will change their mind.
In racial and other conflicts, truth is not really at issue.
Racial prejudice is fueled by emotion, for instance by fear or anger. It does not have a lot to do with the facts and statistics and real histories of African-American families. It does not have a lot to do with who did what to whom. Discussing real history is pretty irrelevant to moderating racial animosities.
We need to face up to these often very deep-seated emotions. That is a difficult and large project.
Here I want to just look at two of these emotions, our fears and the anger those fears arouse.
I try to understand this better by making up a story. I imagine that a black family buys the house next to mine. My first reaction is panic. I feel threatened, I am afraid the value of my house will go down. Then I feel thoroughly ashamed of myself. I remind myself that all I know about my new neighbors is that their skin is a lot darker than mine.
I try to imagine their feelings. Are they frightened? Are they afraid for their children, remembering Emmett Till or the four young girls killed in the bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama church?
When I meet them, I am civil and welcoming. I try not to be excessively friendly, thereby showing how acutely I am aware of the difference in skin color between myself and them, while I'm pretending not to notice it at all, as white anti-racists, like myself, often do. Relations are uncomfortable until my new neighbors cease being the black couple next door and become the unique individuals that I know and like as my neighbors. I may also not like them very much but now they are known to me and the emotion of the first encounters subsides.
One strand in racial conflict is the fear of people we do not know. Racial conflict is fueled not by the relations between races but by my, and your unease in the world. It is easy for us to be afraid not of known threats, but of unknown persons who, we fear, are a danger to us. One source of racial conflict is our perception that the world is extremely dangerous and we are barely able, if at all, to survive in it.
Why does our world seem so precarious and threatening? White people may well feel guilty for their treatment of the descendants of African slaves. But we too have been badly treated. We have been bullied and made fun off as children. We have been neglected and abused. We have been victims of many different forms of violence. We grow up excessively aware of possible threats to our well-being, always expected to be harmed by strangers as well as by people we are close to.
The violence in our world leaves us and our children prepared to be fearful. That pervasive fearfulness fuels racial tension.
Racial conflict will remain an important part of our lives until we manage to construct a less violent society.

Monday, December 29, 2014


CIA Torture Report

Revelations of torture practiced by the CIA have set off a number of passionate debates.
There are some CIA employees who, when asked to torture prisoners, refused and left the agency. Their reason: “America does not torture.” Wish it were true! We do not have to go back to times of slavery but only pay attention to what happens in our prisons today, to know that that boast is empty. America does torture.
A more interesting debate goes back and forth about the efficacy of torture. Opponents assert that the information gained from torture is completely unreliable. The current and previous heads of the agency insist that torture yielded information which actually saved lives by preventing other terrorist attacks. Unfortunately the information on which such claims rest is classified and we have to just trust them.
This debate is interesting for its background. It only makes sense to argue about the effectiveness of torture if you are willing to say that torture that prevents other terrorist incidents is justified. If you believe that America ought not to torture—whatever the outcome -- it is pointless to argue about the actual results of torture. If torture is morally wrong and you will not sacrifice morality for security, the question of outcomes is irrelevant.
Here some readers will chime in and say something like “The ends do not justify the means.” But that only serves to muddy the waters. In all sorts of situations, we believe that the end does justify the means. Many people believe in the death penalty. We are willing to kill people for the sake of closure for the victim's family or for the sake of discouraging people from committing horrible crimes. Everyone is willing to have a life saving operation however painful. Many women are willing to go through the excruciating pain of natural childbirth for the sake of having a healthy baby.
In many situations we do believe that the end justified the means. Does national security justify torturing suspects?
In the conduct of foreign policy, not only the CIA, but the US government, as a whole, is completely unscrupulous. Here is a chilling example I came across recently.
The Ebola epidemic in Liberia got as bad as it is because the early warnings by the Liberian government were not heeded by the population. The Liberian government is widely distrusted by the population, not only for being massively corrupt, but even more because the President, Ellen Sirleaf, was involved with the different dictatorial regimes that wreaked havoc in Liberia in the 1980s and 1990s. These military insurgencies were sponsored and supported by the CIA because the Liberian government of the 1970s was thought to lean to the left and was therefore not acceptable to us. So the CIA unleashed a civil war that killed thousands, drove many more from their homes into exile in neighboring countries, and destroyed the political structure of the country. One long term effect is that the government is so unpopular that many Liberians believe that the Ebola epidemic was the work of the government.
Moral scruples do not inhibit our government.
Since we constantly present ourselves as humane, freedom loving, morally punctilious people, our actual behavior is hypocritical.
The blatant immorality of our foreign policy makes us fiercely hated and often ridiculed. It makes us ever less safe as it inspires fanatical hatred of the US and motivates more and more people to set out to hurt us.
Worse, we act as unscrupulously and morally reprehensibly as the worst of our enemies. For the sake of what we—often mistakenly—believe to be our interest we are willing to bring down the scourges of totalitarian regimes, civil war, massive killing and displacement of populations. We are indifferent to the suffering we impose on millions of people all around the globe.
Is there any doubt that that is completely unacceptable?
Here is a good resolution for the New Year: Congress must defund the CIA.