Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Moral Equivalency

Those on the left side of politics often like to claim that there is moral equivalency between the United States and the various dictatorships- Russian, Chinese, Muslim- that we tend in opposition to. This was a favorite ploy of the former Soviet Union, who used the many useful idiots in media and academia to spread it around the world, especially the world of politics and media.

However, let us take a close look at whether the United States can really be made out to be morally equivalent to those other states. Foremost, let me state the grounds for examination. I do not dispute that various Administrations have used underhanded and brutal techniques to advance the interests of the United States. Nor do I argue that the United States has not always acted precisely in accord with our principles. However, I do not believe that the detractors of the united States can show me an example of any nation that can honestly say it has acted in a more principled manner. Certainly no European or Asian nation can claim a more pure record either in domestic or international affairs.

In the case for moral equivalence, the argument is usually made that the United States is amoral, or an empire, just like its opponents. However, this argument is easily demolished. The United States is an elected republic. Every citizen has an equal vote, and our leaders- at every level- are truly elected by the people, for the people. In addition, we have a truly free media, able to criticize our leadership at its leisure, which is easily demonstrated by the many critical leaks we have seen in the last few years. And we have a volunteer, citizen military, which is subordinate to our elected leaders.

Our economy is based on a mostly free-market model, though government interference ebbs and wanes. And there is a strong array of checks and balances throughout to ensure that no single organ of government ever can claim sole ascendancy. Our judicial system too is covered in checks so as to prevent innocent citizens from falling prey to unscrupulous officials. There are certainly miscarriages of justice, but in the main, I would say our judiciary bends over backwards to protect the rights of the accused.

But the single most important factor is the United States' reluctance for empire. Though we have undoubtedly interfered in other countries' affairs (most notably in South America), we have rarely sought empire. The United States took virtually no part in the empire-building of the nineteenth century, though it was not averse to sharing the gains made by others, especially in China. And only in the case of the Philippines at the end of the Spanish-American War, with the full support of the yellow press, did the United States actually become a colonial power. Even at the height of U.S. power in 1945, the United States made no attempt to subjugate its defeated opponents. Rather, U.S. aid and assistance enabled Germany and Japan to rebuild themselves.

Compare this with the nations that are often used as U.S. counterparts. The former Soviet Union was an empire, built by autocracy and maintained by the power of the Red Army and the secret police. For almost a century, Soviet tanks made sure that the satellite states of Eastern Europe were walled off from Western influence. no wall exists to keep Americans inside America. We worry about keeping illegals out, not keeping our own citizens in. No Communist state has a concern with illegal immigrants, since non one other than deluded intellectuals wants to live there. You could buy Pravda in New York City. Where could you buy Newsweek in the U.S.S.R? No Soviet leader was ever elected by the free vote of the people, and the entire government was essentially at the beck and call of the supreme leader. the Soviet judiciary was used by the state to send millions to the gulags merely for voicing displeasure with the system. When has an American ever been imprisoned in similar conditions in America merely for speaking up?

Nor does Communist China bear close examination. The Great Leap Forward, a state-mandated economic plan, killed millions. And to this day, Chinese are not free to say anything they wish, nor can they freely peruse the wealth of material on the internet, thanks in part to hypocritical American companies such as Google. Rule of law and contracts can be set aside at any moment by the will of the state. And certainly, neither China nor any other Communist state stands for the spread of freedom. Not as long as political opponents are imprisoned.

Cuba? The same argument applies. Cuba has political prisons. No Cuban is permitted to speak freely, save fort the favored few, and only to the right people. Cuban prisons are filled with dissidents and even the so-called elite are trying to defect.

What about Muslim states? Well, examination of Saddam Hussein's Iraq revealed a nation entirely at the mercy of the dictator. According to a 1999 report released b y the American Federation of Scientists, secret prisons, mass graves, systematic repression of the people and the use of chemical weapons against his own people highlighted the reign of Hussein. In addition, we know that his son Uday, as reported by the United Kingdom's Guardian, was "a monster even by the standards of Saddam Hussein's Iraq". The Guardian wrote in 2003,
Uday's excesses carried over in his private life where he had a reputation for ordering any girl or woman who caught his eye to be brought to his private pleasure dome.

The palace, a bad taste Arabian nights fantasy, was decorated with indoor fountains and erotic murals and was in the grounds of his father's presidential estate. A nearby chamber contained huge stashes of drugs as well as an HIV testing kit, according to US forces.

He is also reported to have operated an even more private torture chamber on the banks of the Tigris.

When do Americans behave in this way before the appreciative gaze of their countrymen? When a few U.S. troops dishonored their uniforms with far less horrific behavior, it was a front page scandal for years. And thee is no question of any American leader behaving in the way that Saddam Hussein or any other dictator did. It is simply impossible to consider.

Ronald Reagan, in the almost forgotten debate of 1967 against Robert F. Kennedy confronted the moral equivalency so prevalent today amongst the Left. But his optimism and strength are sadly lacking today, it seems. How are we to triumph over medieval Islam if we cannot even trumpet our positives? And to combat moral equivalency, we must know our own history. Acknowledge the dark stains, but all means, but also take pride in the successes and the many bright spots.

The United States is a free republic- one that stands for the spread of freedom. Communism and all other forms of autocracy simply cannot make that argument. Not China, not the USSR, not Cuba. In the face of the millions of victims of Communism, Nazism and other totalitarianism (radical Islam qualifies here as well) in the twentieth century, one cannot make the argument for moral equivalency with a straight face. Yes, it is true that the United States has done things of which we ought to be ashamed. But to what standard do we refer? Can any other state claim a better record? And in the way we conduct ourselves, we have much to be proud of. We stand for freedom, a free economy, a free press, and the self-determination of citizenry. We have liberated far more nations than we have colonized. We have contributed far more to the world than we have taken, and we continue to try to uphold our honor in increasingly difficult times, despite the sneers of European or other kleptocrats whose time would be better spent attending to the dark shadows in their own pasts as opposed to telling us about ours.

Hat tip to Power Line.

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