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The Collapse of Moral Authority August 13, 2008

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts.

Russia’s invasion of Georgia brings to the surface one of the great costs of the Iraq War—the United States no longer has the moral authority to effectively argue against Russia’s actions.


There is a great deal of uncertainty about what caused the conflagration. Is Russia trying to rebuild the Soviet empire or sending a message that it intends to at least exert its influence over territory formerly under its control? Was Russia baited into invading by Georgia’s attack on separatist movements sympathetic toward Russia? Did the Bush administration wittingly or unwittingly encourage Georgia to bait Russia? We don’t know the answer to these questions at this point. (This essay by Harold Meyerson makes some sense of the situation.)


But one thing is clear. Russia has not done anything that the United States hasn’t done in Iraq and elsewhere. It is therefore no surprise that when blowhards like Bush and McCain express their outrage at Russia’s actions, no one pays much attention. Even the Georgian President is not much impressed. France, on the other hand, is apparently more highly regarded as an honest broker. French President Sarkozy was able to negotiate a cease-fire shortly after disembarking from his plane (although it apparently has not yet been implemented).


In trying to build a framework for cooperation between nations, nothing is more important that maintaining moral authority. If you lack it, no one trusts you, no one empathizes with your situation, and no one is willing to put issues such as justice on the table because they fear these considerations will be cynically manipulated toward self-serving ends. Of course, the threat of force is necessary when moral authority fails. But without trust and the moral authority it engenders, all you have is the threat of force and a state of permanent war.


We used to have that moral authority, at least up to a point, but it has been thoroughly squandered by the Bush administration. Now we are regarded as no more than a bully—like Russia. And an ineffectual bully as well. Since we are tied down by two wars and a military decimated by ill-advised military adventures, there is nothing we can do about the Georgian situation even if some sort of military intervention were justified.


But that hasn’t stopped the neo-conservatives from ginning up war fever once again. They can’t help it. It’s just what they do. Without war fever to occupy headlines and the cable news gasbags, their lack of ideas about how to solve the considerable problems we face would be exposed for everyone to see. This is their big chance to reinvigorate the cold war to provide an excuse for their perpetual war against evil, which is the only justification they can find for their sorry existence.


So McCain is running around like Attila the Hun on a drug cocktail of meth and Viagra trying to impress everyone with his crisis management skills.


And what skills indeed!


Today, McCain made an utter fool of himself by declaring “In the 21st Century, Nations Don’t Invade Other Nations”!  Excuse me Senator, didn’t we just….? 


Do we want someone as disgustingly disingenuous as this as President, and someone so stupid he can’t deploy rhetoric that at least attempts to avoid contradiction and meaninglessness?



1. Paul Moloney - August 16, 2008

The comment is disturbing because it indicates a severe lack of intellectual activity within the mind of the person saying it. It is also disturbing because it also indicates an ignorance of the intelligent people in this country and throughout the world. What would be more disturbing is that the commentator does not care what intelligent people think because the commentator is more interested in the power of the office, knowing that intelligent people cannot argue against power and win.

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