Pseudo Pragmatism--Political Folly, Foreign & Domestic

January, 2012 Feature--Truth Based Logic


Synopsis
Political folly, foreign & domestic, from a too narrow focus; poorly thought out pretense, rationalized as pragmatism. Two examples.

As we move forward into the earliest & most acrimonious Federal political season since 1860, evidence of a decline in political & social acumen among those Americans who make a profession of politics, grows almost as fast as the public debt. It is not that the candidates have all ingested narcotics--nor are they unaware of the silly & biased side of contemporary American "News" Media. But most seem unable to make essential distinctions; demonstrating an inability to effectively assess issues on which the "News" Media have forced the focus.

At an internet venue premised on the importance of truth based logic--the only rational approach to any issue--candor is required. We would avoid adding to the growing rancour among those seeking the Republican nomination to run against The Accidental American. We are loath to rip into any even somewhat conservative candidate. Yet failure to comment on the pseudo pragmatism, being displayed, is invitation to long-term disaster. We will tread as as lightly as we dare, offering but two examples of the false, pseudo, pragmatism that courts unfortunate consequences. Hopefully, the discussion will help you recognize other examples of like folly.

Pseudo Pragmatism--Path To Disaster: Foreign Policy

The first example, chosen because it reflects the posturing of several candidates for President, is a somewhat hysterical response to a quite possible threat of more Iranian mischief, as Iranian nuclear research continues. Before going into contemporary specifics, we would recall the first of George Washington's sage admonitions on how to deal with the vast & diverse array of other peoples.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace & harmony with all. Religion & morality enjoin this conduct, and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice & benevolence. Who can doubt but, in the course of time & things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it; can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

This approach was our guideline before entry into World War I. It made us the most respected peoples on earth. Yet note, Washington did not rule out the most effective response to any actual threat requiring a military answer. The question there, and the answer must vary with the threat, what is the honorable but pragmatic approach to any particular threat?

In responding to the question of Iranian nuclear research, several candidates have continued to abandon Washington, in seeking the most truculent approach. Rationalizing for a preemptive strike, one even suggested murdering Iranian physicists. Several sought panic, urging that an Iranian nuclear bomb might be smuggled into the United States; that Iranians were not like other peoples, that their national pursuit was some form of "martyrdom"; implying that there could be no possibility for friendly resolution of conflicting values--such as the "live & let live" approach, which has sometimes led to eras of peace in various parts of the world.

But, this is pseudo pragmatism. And a 'doubling down' of pseudo pragmatism. Indeed, if the American future was so imperiled by a nuclear breakthrough in Iran--of a type that the Iranians keep denying that they are even pursuing--that leaders turned in desperation to murdering civilians, a decent regard for the moral sensibilities of Mankind would certainly dictate that they not discuss it on Television before tens of millions of viewers. Moreover, if, in reality, Iran is a totally incorrigible foe of American interests, she is no more so than North Korea, while she is very far behind North Korea in the technological ability to actually launch an effective attack on the United States. And so far as some sort of back door smuggling operation; such a threat is not unique to hostile Iranians; nor is the obvious answer.

The idea of a preemptive strike, on the other side of the world, against a people still many years behind us in the technology of modern warfare, is idiotic. The real need is to secure America against all enemies, both for today & tomorrow--not an endless succession of expensive ventures. The answer is along lines that President Reagan outlined in the 1980s, along with a complete over-haul of the technology & manpower employed to protect our borders, coasts & airports. All attacking Iran would accomplish, in that broader picture, would be to convince much of the world that Americans believe that they are totally a law unto themselves--a people to be feared rather than respected. It is not bad to have your enemies fear you; but you do not want to be an object only of fear to those who once loved & respected you.

Such a preemptive strike would greatly increase the ability of those who already hate us, to recruit new candidates to augment the unconventional tactics of the late bin Laden, in Islamic Universities. It would result in a large swathe of the earth being unsafe for Americans to even go sight seeing, in the future.

The candidates' rhetoric, referred to, also suggests deep antipathy towards contemporary Iran; reasonable after the overthrow of our friend the Shah in 1979, but hardly something we want to become permanent. Here is how George Washington addressed this point. And before anyone says, "that was reasonable then, but times have changed"; seriously consider his explanation, reflecting timeless principles of human psychology. Here was a wise, true, leader; not a strutting politician trying to sound tough:

. . . nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations & passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that in place of them, just & amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty & its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult & injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty & intractable when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill will & resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility, instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister & pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels & wars of the latter, without adequate inducements or justifications. It leads also to concessions, to the favorite nation, of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions, by unnecessary parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted or deluded citizens who devote themselves to the favorite nation, facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

. . . Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike for another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil & even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected & odious; while its tools & dupes usurp the applause & confidence of the people, to surrender their interest.

Was the second Bush's angry refusal to even talk with the Iranians over key issues in the Near & Middle Easts, not a mistake? That it actually served neither our interests nor that of those the President claimed to be protecting? When you are in a position of world leadership, sounding like the neighborhood bully, outside your own neighborhood, is not in the interest of anyone but those who hate you.

Finally, seeming "success" in a preemptive strike on Iran would lead to calls for repetition, elsewhere. Indeed, North Korea, for one, is a far clearer present danger. But what about other nuclear powers with intense domestic divisions, such as Pakistan, India, Israel--even Russia. A scenario of potential threat can be attributed to any advanced nation.

Pseudo Pragmatism--Domestic Folly

For a domestic example of pseudo pragmatism, consider the immediate scramble of Republican "Conservatives" to embrace the idea of an extension of the "Payroll Tax" Holiday! What, gentle reader, is the "Payroll Tax"; what of practical benefit to anyone can be accomplished by such a holiday; what, the obvious result--in the parlance of the talking heads & parroting keyboards of the mass media, the "unintended consequences"--of repeatedly approving a "Payroll Tax" Holiday?

One can search the Constitution in vain for any suggestion of power in the Federal Government to provide a system of old age pensions for civilians. When Social Security was launched, it was challenged as unconstitutional & upheld; yet not as a pension! It was upheld under the taxing power. One stated purpose of a "Payroll Tax" is to fund Social Security entitlements. The "let's pretend" goal in repeatedly suspending the tax as a Keynesian stimulant to economic recovery (the amounts involved not suggesting the claimed effect), will not likely be the long term impact. No, what is more significant than any slight increase in domestic consumption, or even than the coming inflationary effect from increasing Federal deficits, is in undermining the remaining legitimacy in a Social Security system that many retired Americans depend on--what we have been told is the "Third Rail of American politics."

While not truly consideration for a legal contract; what people obtain by paying a tax to fund social security is analogous to an equitable estoppel--a device that Courts have adopted to protect those who change their circumstances, for a promise of future benefit, from being denied that benefit by the party promising same. Congress has not been reducing the promise of Social Security payments in regard to the "Payroll Tax" Holiday; what it has simply done is ignore the legal basis for the claim. This is not the first, but it certainly is a major move, in making the Social Security promise more analogous to a Welfare entitlement, for mere existence, than an earned benefit from an honorable Government.

Given the systematic sabotage of intergenerational respect by Collectivist/Egalitarian (Socialist) inspired educational establishments in America, reducing Social Security, from the concept of a fully paid for benefit to cousin of a corrupt Welfare system, building a class totally dependent upon Government, is ominous indeed. Equally ominous, is the overwhelming support for such moves, even among nominally "Conservative" Republicans. If there were still H. L. Menckens in American journalism, there would be no place for such to hide.

Note: Because we have, somehow, to find a basis for coming together in 2012, we have deliberately neglected to name "names" in either example

William Flax





For generations, Americans have been bombarded with challenges to the continuity of their values, culture & identity. These have included the absurd lie of an equality of human potential; a direct attack on the ethnic pride & identity of mainstream Americans as unique peoples--coupled with the pretense that they are somehow guilty of causing most of the earth's problems;--and the promotion of a cynical Utilitarian view of Government, that despite a written Constitution--precisely intended to prevent such misuse of power--the Government has whatever power a majority desire, to address any & all problems of unhappy individuals.

Return Of The Gods explores the impact of this ideological assault, to demonstrate political, social & economic effects that would lead to the 2008 economic & political disaster. Will Welfare State premises bring yet more chaos, followed by violence & revolution to America? Consider>>

Return Of The Gods

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