by Nowick Gray
Remember the "Golden Rule" of childhood?
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
This rule is predicated not only on the noble virtues of charity and trust, but also on the central human reality of self-interest. It also accords with our practical observations of self-fulfilling prophecy. Such behavior tends to have the result of reciprocal good will, for mutual benefit.
Somehow in this "adult" world of 2003, the rule has been turned upside down:
"Do unto others the worst you can imagine they might do unto you."
At least, this is the currently proclaimed rule of US foreign policy. Beyond the acting out of a sort of "advance vengeance," the chief ingredient here is fear, to go along with a more paranoid version of self-interest. Unfortunately, self-fulfilling prophecy is still at work, too. Retaliation in kind (through violence and terror) is sure to pose an even greater, more justifiable threat to American self-interest once hostilities begin.
In this mirrored confrontation of perceived threats, Saddam Hussein has been painted as another Hitler. But when recalling the historic blitzkrieg, bombers over London and troops invading Poland--my dictionary says "a swift, sudden military offensive, usually by combined air and mobile land forces"--it's the American strike force that bears a closer resemblance (leaving aside the historical connection between Hitler and banker Prescott Bush, the President's grandfather).
Is the "axis of evil," in this unstable equation, really Iraq + Iran + North Korea? Or is it the US + Britain + Israel? Current opinion polled at Time Magazine online shows the US as the greatest threat to world peace (87%).
While Iraq makes nothing but conciliatory statements and gestures of cooperation with weapons inspectors, North Korea taunts the US with outright declarations of defiance, nuclear capability, and treaty abrogation. Bush's response? To continue to pledge diplomacy for North Korea and military action against Iraq. Huh?
Something else must be going on here, besides fear and "homeland security." Is it trying to live up to daddy? Or is it something that Iraq has that North Korea doesn't--namely, oil--"black gold"?
To a nation raised on the Golden Rule in church and school, it's easier to sell a war on the basis of fear than on greed. It's convenient to turn that rule upside down from a position of fear and paranoid self-interest, even if the result is short-sighted. It's not so palatable to tell the world (or one's own population), "We're gonna take what we want, and to hell with the rest of you."
Fear and self-interest, in the twenty-first century, are still unquestioned. But greed, plunder, and aggression...that's a different barrel of oil.
If "weapons of mass destruction" are used to invade another country and steal its oil, that's not okay. But if the same weapons are used to invade another country and steal its oil because that country might have stored in secret somewhere the capability to someday manufacture and use weapons of mass destruction, then it's okay. Or so I hear...
I guess we're off the Gold Standard now, and hooked on Standard Oil. Pretty soon we'll dispense altogether with the smoke and mirrors and declare more honestly the operative creed:
"Do unto others whatever you must, if they have what you must have, to make them give it unto you."
The challenge remains, how to deal with people who hold to such policy, even if they are our own leaders? I don't know, but I guess that is has something to do with offering them (and ourselves) something more valuable than oil or gold. What could it be?
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