Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

December 15, 2007

Conflation of Interests

Filed under: politics — Tags: — codesmithy @ 11:15 am

I finished up “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq” by Stephen Kinzer. One of the things that Kinzer convinced me of is that American policy is directed by people that are motivated by the desire to do well, while doing good. At the core, many examples of American misadventures came down to a variation of a central thesis of “what’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” This quote is attributed to Charlie Wilson, former president of G.M. and Eisenhower’s Secretary of Defense.  Apparently, he actually said “for years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.” (source) Although, it doesn’t change the central point.  If “Overthrow” proves anything it is the fact the general sentiment was shared with other administration officials including John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, and by Eisenhower himself.

In some ways, it would have been better to have outright scoundrels ruling the country, at least they would have understood what they were doing was wrong. Instead, we are set on these courses of action by deluded do-gooders with a completely warped base of values. Incompetents who think they are helping but are unable to tell the difference between success and failure.

The central values that these pro-business-is-pro-country leaders lack are baldly apparent in our Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The foundation of legitimacy of any government is the consent of the governed.  What these leaders lack is the ability to really put themselves in the shoes of the people they are trying to impose governance.

Let’s take Iraq as an example.  If I were an Iraqi, what would I want?  I would want a job.  I would want basic services.  I would want security and personal safety.  I would like natural resources of the country to be used to benefit to pay for increases in standards of living of everyone in the country.  I would want foreign troops out of the country.  I would like all these things to happen as soon as possible.  If a country offers to help reconstruct our country, I’d rather they would just give us some money and let us spend it to get the resources we would need and to pay workers rather than trying to do it for us.

The inability of these pro-American business leaders to place themselves in the shoes of an ordinary Iraqi citizen is profound, but not unexpected.  They usually come a very isolated culture that is instilled with the virtues of unwaivering belief and messianic mission.  The problem with the Iraqi government is the U.S.  The U.S. actively disallows Iraqi government to do the things that one of our founding documents states it must do in order to be legitimate government: obtain the consent of the governed.  Democracy is not some magic panacea to government.  It is a belief that public opinion matters; thus gaining consent of govern and therefore legitimate.  A situation that is not happening in Iraq.  What will happen eventually is that the citizens will eventually install a government in which their consent is obtained.  If Iran is any guide, it will be a fundamentalist theocracy.

If this outcome is to be avoided, a change of policy needs to take place.  The Iraqi government needs to be more responsive to its people.  What is clear is that the Bush Administration will never get it right.  For them, what is good for Halliburton is good for the world.  To them, democracy is just a word that we use that resulted in the artifact that they are in charge.  Capitalism is just a word that we use to describe the legitimacy of their wealth.  The contradiction between these goals are never realized because the distinctions between the concepts are never defined.  The conflation of interests allows these self-interested do-well-ers to continue to believe they are doing good.  The only cure is the truly indifferent and brutal arbitrator known as reality.  Something these incompetents will never realize until it is too late, or ever.

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