Environmental Ethics
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Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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The Gadfly Bytes -- March 20, 2003

Thoughts on the Eve of a Disaster

Ernest Partridge

To secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed... Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.

Thomas Jefferson
Declaration of Independence

If we keep relying on the facts and logic, 
then we’re going to lose this battle.”

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), 
Nucleus (UCS), Fall 1995

Tonight, in Baghdad and throughout Iraq, mothers will put their children to bed, and will greet their husbands as they return home from work. These people, along with 22 million of their compatriots, victims of a cruel and despotic dictator, have no quarrel with you or with me. 

In a few days or even hours, tens of thousands of these innocents will be dead or horribly injured, and those who are spared will grieve the loss of their friends and family. And with their country's infrastructure destroyed, they will face malnutrition and disease.

All this because a petulant and callous little man, appointed to his office by political cronies, has decided, in the face of world-wide protest and in defiance of international law, to unleash this horror.

Meanwhile, a captive media has spewed out a torrent of lies and distortions upon an uncritical and uninformed public, while, at the same time, essential information and dissenting opinions have been suppressed or, at best, exiled to marginal insignificance. And virtually missing from the media is any mention of the coming slaughter of the innocents.

These are the thoughts that oppress my soul during these final moments of peace. 

This, and the confident expectation that when the massacre-called-"war" is concluded, we will enter into a new era in which peace, security and personal liberties will be fading memories, as terror is unleashed in our cities and as new alliances coalesce beyond our borders to resist the common threat, the outlaw rogue nation, the would-be empire -- the United States of America, my country.

We have consented to have a gang of psychopaths take control of our government, and their pathology, having captured the media, is now spreading like an uncontained plague to every corner of our once-blessed land. 

Josef Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s notorious propaganda minister, famously proclaimed the doctrine of “The Big Lie.” Tell a lie often enough, and boldly enough, and the masses will accept it as proven truth.

Now note this: None of the hijacker-terrorists of 9/11 were Iraqi. Yet in a recent survey, only seventeen percent knew this to be a fact. Another poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. The first claim is a confirmable falsehood. The second claim is completely without supporting evidence, and thus may confidently be assumed to be false.

And yet, Bush and his administration flacks, along with the compliant punditry and media, repeat these lies over and over again. Still worse, the same media have taken no noteworthy effort to report the refuting truth, as these “convenient lies” are spread promiscuously without rebuttal and for partisan purposes, by "the public media.”

So now, sure enough, a growing majority of Americans falsely believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 and actively promotes terrorism , and that majority now supports the war.

In Europe, where the people still enjoy a free and diverse press, there are no such delusions, and the vast majority of Europeans oppose George Bush’s war.

A foolish and gullible public now accepts uncritically the "establishment" line as presented the US media, which has fallen into a disgraceful condition reminiscent of Das Reich under the Nazis, and Pravda under Stalin. And so, the astute citizen must look for news and insight to the foreign press, to the internet, and to the very few remaining honest and independent journalists at home. 

There remains enough news “out there” (from the aforementioned independent and mostly foreign, sources, as well as the internet), that the astute and diligent citizen can see through this tapestry of lies. Indeed, by simply placing “official” pronouncements side-by-side, flat-out contradictions can be clearly detected. For example, in a radio address, Bush said that he was “doing all he could” to avoid war. How can anyone who followed the Security Council debates believe that? And alongside the announcement that a rain of 3000 “shock and awe” missiles will fall upon the cities of Iraq, we are told that “we seek to minimize civilian casualties.” And who can fail to notice that when accusations are made (“Saddam has an active and dangerous nuclear weapons program”) absolutely no credible supporting evidence is forthcoming?

Moreover, there is the long list of embarrassing failed attempts to produce “evidence.” The “aluminum tubing,” useless for nuclear weapons production, the ten-year-old plagiarized term paper, the forged documents intended to “prove” shipment of uranium ore to Iraq. (For more lies and concoctions, see “The View from Wonderland”).

We are like prisoners in Plato’s cave, as the propagandists and spin-meisters throw shadows on the wall and call it truth. Yet, with deliberate effort, we can, on our own initiative, glimpse the sunlit reality outside the cave

Some day the villainy of this war will become known to the American people, as it is known now throughout the world. But enough information is available today that the mournful cry, “if only we had known!” will not in that future stand as an excuse.

The unelected, illegitimate regime that now controls our fate and the fate of the world, is itself in the thrall of dogma – dogma which, like that of a fundamentalist religion, has no place for logic, evidence, science, or even common sense. For example, “supply-side economics,” decisively refuted by the failures of the Reagan and Bush I administrations, and the success of the Clinton administration, is re-instituted intact by Bush II, with dreadful, yet predictable, results all- too-evident today. 

It is a dogmatism that is unburdened with cultural sensitivity or historical knowledge – a dogma that implements radical policies, and launches a war, with no thought of side effects or unintended consequences, and which never asks “... and then what?” It is a dogma that believes that American economic and political institutions can be transplanted, intact, in alien cultures – undeterred by spectacularly failures of previous attempts to do so (notably in post-Soviet Russia).

This is the dogmatic mind-set which has launched a war today, confident that after we have slaughtered tens of thousands of their parents, sons, daughters, and neighbors, the surviving Iraqis will greet their “liberators” with flowers and kisses.   In the face of dogma, “history is bunk” and wishful thinking triumphs. 

But now we are at war. Should we put all differences aside, stifle our criticisms, and “stand by our leader,” however much we might disagree with him? That is what such prominent Democrats as Paul Begala, James Carville, Joseph Lieberman and Joseph Biden are urging. Are the remaining dissidents (such as Yours Truly), “traitors,” as Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh tell us?

We beg to differ. We fail to understand why a war that is justly criticized as unwarranted and immoral before it begins, all of a sudden is to be placed beyond criticism after it is launched.

Why are we said to "support our troops" by sending them into the jaws of death, while we "betray our troops" when we insist that they be brought home at once, safe and sound?

Such blind obedience and willful silence extended the Viet Nam war by several years, at the cost of thousands of American and millions of Vietnamese lives -- until, that is, the American public finally wised up, spoke up, took to the streets, and put a stop to that disaster.

The demand for critical silence raises some intriguing questions: Does a failure to “stand by the leader, right or wrong,” cause us to condemn Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Klaus von Stauffenberg and Hans and Sophie Scholler ("The White Rose") for failing to support their "leader" in a time of war? And what, today, is a just moral evaluation Daniel Ellsberg?

As of today, March 19, 2003, the United States of America, once the beacon of liberty, justice and decency, stands condemned before the world and, unless the evil just commenced is renounced, by history as well.

America’s honor has been stained, and only Americans can restore it. We must, within our borders and among our citizens, enlist the means to rid ourselves of this regime and the arrogance, cruelty and dogmatism that goes with it. The Founders of our Republic gave us a system of checks and balances to defend us all against the abuses of power that now oppress us. Those checks and balances, residing in the tripartite branches of government, have now been eroded as the Judiciary has become an obedient accomplice, and the “opposing party” in the Congress has been cowed into insignificance. The remaining “check,” the “fourth estate” of the press, has also been captured by the ruling establishment. There is even reason to suspect that ballot box, the repository of the will of the people, has been compromised. 

Even so, this regime of wealth and power can only be sustained with the consent of the governed, even if that consent is nothing more than passive acquiescence. The declining economy, and our coming isolation from the world community, may put an end to that passivity.  Once the citizenry is aroused, we can, with determination, courage, and sacrifice, take back our country. 

Don’t wait for “them” to do it for you. It us up to you and to me. Our fate is in our hands.

Only the American people can restore the honor of the United States of America!

Copyright 2003, by Ernest Partridge

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .