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Opening Thoughts Machiavelli and a Transformational Possibility by Peter Moore, Editor
I guess the president has a harder time of it, telling the truth & all. He’s caught up in that Machiavellian world of power and “national security”. In that world, telling the truth gives advantage to the enemy—so the president has to lie. And so many enemies now! The president has to lie a lot, just to keep up.
But it’s cruel at the top because, here in America, the president has to tell the truth and keep his promises. We expect that, insist on it even. The president is in a tough spot, having to lie and appear to tell the truth at the same time, about the same things. It gets very complicated for the president.
But it’s gotten out of hand. First the president promised to get Bin Ladin "dead or alive." But he didn’t get him in either condition—so now it doesn't matter, nobody talks about him anymore. Instead of Osama bin Ladin, let’s just call him “Osama bin Forgottin”.
The president sent an invasion army into Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction (WMD). But the president lied. The weapons didn’t exist and he knew it. (Paul Wolfowitz, one of the president’s men, explained that WMD was the only rationale they could all agree on to launch the invasion.)
The president lied when he declared an end to combat operations in Iraq last spring. More US soldiers have been killed since the president made that declaration than died during the invasion itself.
The president lies about the numbers. He says our nation can afford this war. The US spends 4 billion dollars a month (that’s a billion+ dollars per week) to occupy Iraq for the foreseeable future. One glance at the biggest budget deficit in US history tells the whole story. There are families in the United States whose life support programs are ended, whose medical insurance has run out, whose food stamps are cut off, whose day care programs are eliminated. Every state in the nation is up against budgetary crisis and the federal government does nothing to help. All of this so we could spend the money on our army in Iraq.
There are lots of lies. But I think the biggest lie going is the one about the “war on terrorism”. Simply put, the politics and practices of violence cannot end violence. The president lies every time he says that it can. This is the “war” that cannot be won because it makes us do precisely those things that we accuse the terrorists of doing. We break international law, we’re involved in the international arms trade, we kill to meet our political goals. This “war” disfigures the American ethic and it is a disgrace.
Where are the politics and practices of compassion and justice? We hear of them nowhere. Yet they are present in every city and state in this nation, and indeed around the world. More precisely, they are present in the hearts & minds & doings of many millions of people worldwide. And those people are hooking up. We are linking up, in part, through organizing locally and communicating internationally.
Now, as in no other time in history, we have a transformational possibility. To make it happen, we must continue to name things by their true names, and not to lie. That old world of Machiavellian maneuvering may still be the code of conduct for the “ruling class”, but it’s such an old story . . . it makes about as much sense of pledging allegiance to the state of Sparta.
To manifest the transformational possibility, we must be counter-intuitively optimistic. We are progressive people who know that we may lose every battle and still be triumphant—in spirit and ultimately, in social change based on compassion and justice.
One place it starts is with the vote. My vote is my prayer for a better world. Every time a voting day comes along, I think of joining my personal prayer with millions of others. If we all vote our hopes instead of our fears, awesome effects can result.
Peter Moore, editor, Alternatives Magazine