Did you see the Iraq War news story on Anderson Cooper’s show the other night? The one where America’s Commanders are now arming Sunni militias, and turning their back on the same vile abusive behavior we have asked that they stop American troops from performing. See the transcript at CNN Anderson’s Transcripts. Arming a former enemy is ridiculous. Hiring and supplying thugs for dirty assignments is deplorable. Wishfully, everyone would have learned this lesson in their youth. An intense focus on the near term objective at the expense of the longer term perspective is flawed judgment. A flaw that precisely leads to taking an action today that you regret with hindsight.
How many times, frequently maybe, do we look at our entertainers, or business leaders, and think, “what were they thinking?” In a child, we would blame immaturity for this behavior. In a management environment, we would say the manager lacks vision, failing too often to see the implications of their actions. Yet, in politics, we encourage this trait with terms such as commitment, honor and support for the American Way of Life. And worse yet, we reward the behavior. The more I understand what has been done to protect America, the more I question my fellow Americans’ values. Or should I? Is it the society’s values, or the person charged with a task that is too much for them to handle?
What troubles me, is the apparent double standard where inside the country the government leaders espouse values based on the Constitution and then ignores the same values as we operate externally. If I perceived a threat from another American citizen, not an inconceivable thought as James Byrd’s murder was fewer than ten years ago, and use preemptive force to reduce the threat I would land in jail. Say for example, my neighbor and I share a driveway onto separate properties. Would anyone support me surreptitiously breaking up the marriage of my neighbors, befriending one spouse because I did not like the decisions of the other. Is this action much different, than encouraging a leadership change in another country because we did not agree with how they used an asset, say, oil for example?
In foreign relations, our government has pursued protecting “the American Way of Life” with a zeal not tolerated within the country. Why is behavior acceptable outside intolerable inside? Is the reason simply, our elections reward ends and never punish the means of achieving the results, or do too many citizens only care about the ends; the means do not matter. Or do I misread the animal instinct within.
The means matter. And human can exist with higher behavior standards than other animals. The next President will have challenging mess to lead us through; and the chosen means have many implications. Now if politicians would disclose their preferred means of cleaning up the mess. In this sense, the technology that invades privacy, might just be the stimulus for opening the politicians values to public view. In an environment, where anyone can have a video & voice recorder in their hands, politicians have few hiding places. Cameras have helped cleanup deplorable civil rights abuses and many police departments, I hope politicians are next.