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This is great stuff. Is anybody reading it?

Craig Hubley

"Rhetoric--which should have been refined and codified in a declaration of war--could have directed a political and spiritual river propelling the entire country, not washing over an already dedicated segment of true believers." Quite true. In its absence, perhaps unwelcome messages will spread. His "axis of evil", which certainly did not exist as such, was an invention of Canadian neocon David Frum, who was writing speeches for Bush at the time (not for long after, due to his wife's bragging about him writing this phrase).

Another Canadian, Prime Minister Jean Chretien, in Canadian federal politics for a full forty years at the time, had this to say in July 2002:

"You cannot exercise your powers to the point of humiliation of the others (sic). And that is what the Western world -- not only the Americans but the Western world -- has to realize... It's always the problem when you read history -- everybody (sic) doesn't know when to stop. There's a moment when you have to stop, there's a moment when you are very powerful.... I said that in New York one day. I said, you know talking, it was Wall Street, and it was a crowd of capitalists, of course, and they were complaining because we have a normal relation with Cuba, and this and that, and, you know, we cannot do everything we want. And I said...if I recall, it was probably these words: 'When you're powerful like you are, you guys, it's the time to be nice.'"

"And I do think that the Western world is going to be too rich in relation to the poor world. And necessarily, you know, we look upon us being arrogant, self-satisfying, greedy and with no limits. And the 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize that even more."

Chretien's English as always was a bit mangled by "his distinctly upper-Saint-Lawrence French-Canadian drawl." But you really don't need perfect diction to get the point: a link between intensified world poverty, the arrogance of US power and the September attacks. That's about it. You don't breeze past this kind of observation from someone in politics for 40 years - most of that in the global arena - but when has this debate actually taken place in the US?

Had there been a declaration of war, it could have been phrased as a commitment to end these conditions. But it wasn't. Because, sadly, the people who had seized control of the US at that point (don't tell me Bush won the 2000 election!), liked those conditions. They benefit from them. They don't see anything at all wrong with them.

They were, and are, fighting to remain "arrogant, self-satisfying, greedy and with no limits."

Some commitments to deal with some of these things may have come from Bush lately but it's too late: ethics largely consists of comparing your reasoning before and after the event, and discarding as bogus anything that varies. And sadly, the rationale has varied quite a bit, from imminent danger from very specific weapons, to "human rights" to "democracy in the Arab world", and even (for those truly not paying any attention) "stopping the terrorists where they live".

The dangers of this shifting game are obvious and are playing out now: people willing to believe that the 9/11 events were caused from a cave in Afghanistan, then shifting to believe they were caused from a palace in Baghdad, in the latter case without evidence, are also prone to believe they were caused from a Halliburton boardroom, or Mossad's desperation to get allies to take out an enemy they could not take out, or even from a ranch in Crawford, Texas. It is increasingly hard to squelch the belief that 9/11 was a set up, precisely because of the shifting and inconsistent rationale. The lack of declarations of war definitely have played their part in all this.

Chretien's rhetoric, which was sympathetic and quite supportive despite diplomatic abuses (diverting all the planes in the North Atlantic sky to Canada which could only have required them to ditch by refusing, possibly exposing its own airports to great dangers), and only shifted to this cautious critique the next July, was on the other hand exemplary and well-timed.

These are the skills America needs to find in itself. And not by hiring Canadians as speechwriters.

Excellent, excellent article.

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