Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Tragic Legacy

The following is an excerpt from "A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency," which will be published June 26.

By Glenn Greenwald

One of the principal dangers of vesting power in a leader who is convinced of his own righteousness -- who believes that, by virtue of his ascension to political power, he has been called to a crusade against Evil -- is that the moral imperative driving the mission will justify any and all means used to achieve it. Those who have become convinced that they are waging an epic and all-consuming existential war against Evil cannot, by the very premises of their belief system, accept any limitations -- moral, pragmatic, or otherwise -- on the methods adopted to triumph in this battle.

Efforts to impose limits on waging war against Evil will themselves be seen as impediments to Good, if not as an attempt to aid and abet Evil. In a Manichean worldview, there is no imperative that can compete with the mission of defeating Evil. The primacy of that mandate is unchallengeable. Hence, there are no valid reasons for declaring off-limits any weapons that can be deployed in service of the war against Evil.

Equally operative in the Manichean worldview is the principle that those who are warriors for a universal Good cannot recognize that the particular means they employ in service of their mission may be immoral or even misguided. The very fact that the instruments they embrace are employed in service of their Manichean mission renders any such objections incoherent. How can an act undertaken in order to strengthen the side of Good, and to weaken the forces of Evil, ever be anything other than Good in itself? Thus, any act undertaken by a warrior of Good in service of the war against Evil is inherently moral for that reason alone.
It is from these premises that the most amoral or even most reprehensible outcomes can be -- and often are -- produced by political movements and political leaders grounded in universal moral certainties. Intoxicated by his own righteousness and therefore immune from doubt, the Manichean warrior becomes capable of acts of moral monstrousness that would be unthinkable in the absence of such unquestionable moral conviction. One who believes himself to be leading a supreme war against Evil on behalf of Good will be incapable of understanding any claims that he himself is acting immorally.

These principles illuminate a central, and tragic, paradox at the heart of the Bush presidency.

If the rest of this book is half as good as this excerpt it should be an excellent read. Mr. Greenwald hits the nail on the head with the Bush administration. The biggest problem I’ve always had with Bushie & Co. is their ability to self-righteously attempt to justify any actions on Americas part, under the guise that we are the good guys (no matter what we do) fighting against the evil terrorist empires. (I personally think Bush has watched Star Wars one too many times and believes he’s Luke Skywalker. He doesn’t seem to realize that Darth Vader is his second in command-lol.)

The Bush administration has used the fear of terrorism and their own supposed moral imperative to not only break international law, with their new preemptive strike philosophy and discarding of the Geneva Convention, but to continuously break and manipulate America’s laws. These actions have left a new, virtually unrecognizable America, which gets little if any respect from the people of the world and has no respect for other nations nor for Americas own citizens. The idea that you’re the “good guys” simply because you say you are is inane. What made America “good” ,for the most part in the past, was its rule of law, its sense of justice for all, in other words, its principles. Bush has thrown those principles in the trash and with them any moral imperative this nation ever had.

6 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

You know, Leo, I've always considered myself conservative. I'm wondering how scary it should be that I agree with almost everything you post. If you and I agree that this administration is a catastrophe coming from different points of view, who are the other 29%?

6/20/2007 6:09 PM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

It seems now that I'm constantly thinking or saying, great post Leo.

Dont stop whatever you are doing... Great post Leo!

6/20/2007 10:38 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

Doug, well I think the fact that we're both reasonable people probably explains why we agree so often. Either that or you're coming over to the dark side-lol!! The 29% of people who can't see what a disaster the Bush administration has been, must be blind, deaf and dumb, no offense to the handicapped! Anyway, thanks for visiting, commenting and being the type of American who puts America before partisan party lines.
Let's Talk, boy today's my day for compliments, thanks so much. I'm flattered that you and Doug and some other regulars take the time to read what I post. I appreciate that and also all of the comments, which add greatly to the discussions.

6/21/2007 1:05 AM  
Blogger Scruffybutt said...

Yes, I second that, Let'sTalk - great post, Leo. I'm putting this book on my must-read list.

Bush has a messianic complex and is surrounded by people who use that to further their own despicable, greedy agendas.

6/21/2007 2:48 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Oh crap, I accidentally posted as my dog, "Scruffybutt," again - sorry. (Although, she would probably agree with every word I said.)

6/21/2007 2:50 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

Candace & Scruffybutt, Well said! I'm glad you liked the post. Thanks for the comments and Scruffybutt I love your name!

6/21/2007 4:35 PM  

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