Tuesday, November 29, 2005

When Clinton lied...

I was wandering a forum (IMDB) on Michael Moore's upcoming mockumentary, Farenheit 9/11 1/2, and I ran into a conversation led by conservatives in the US, on how much Clinton lied too, and that he is not held accountable for that... All this as a reaction to the now-famous bumper sticker "When Clinton lied, no one died". I responded on impulse - really gut reaction, which was not smart, but I decided to post my response here, so maybe people can correct me, or support me. Please, only constructive criticism.

Comparing Clinton's lying to Bush's is pure lunacy in my humble opinion, but I am a firm believer in freedom of speech and opinion, so hey, those that do, be my guest. Let me express mine and say this:

The personal/sexual life of the President of a country should never be in the public debate - at least not in any further extent than that of any other private citizen. As head of state, they already lose a lot of their privacy; should we also take that of their private moments in bed... or in this case in their office? That it is sleazy to have mistresses is a matter of personal morals and beliefs. Unless I am mistaken, adultery is not punishable under the law. I do not know why Americans are hellbent on bringing everything to the courts. Now, Clinton DID lie, yes. But yet again so did Bush. And even though you can make very good arguments against the legality of the Kosovo war because of its unilateral nature, Clinton did not go there on false purposes. In other words, his lies did not involve a miscalculated, somewhat imperial, and oil-lucrative war, and he did not pretend as though he was the savior of "God's gift of freedom to humanity".

"Clinton also went without UN backing (in Kosovo)..."

No backing of the UN... well that's nothing new. The US is John Wayne country. Gung-ho, and on a power-trip. and that is true regardless of which party is in power. Clinton or Bush. The difference is, when Clinton orders the troops on a mission - however arrogant and/or succesful, it is to save people from a visible humanitarian catastrophe (Somalia, Kosovo). He paid for this dearly, when Rwanda's genocide came around (and I was living there at the time), and he was in a situation where public opinion could not even conceive of another mission in Africa. He is definitely not a Saint, but he knew when to take tough decisions for truly humanitarian causes... you know, saving lives, and stuff! The US is supposed to be - or at least it claims to be - the champion of human life, of human rights... Clinton - very clumsily - stood up for those principles, and he should be commended for that, just as much as he is condemned for his mistakes, if not more. And if he wants to get himself a bl... felatio in the process, I do not approve, but I really don't give a damn.

Now our friend Bush on the other end... Brother W sent the country to war on faulty - some say doctored - intelligence, in a country that was not a priority except for his clan, and for the occasional TV pastor asking for "an army of light to keep Babylon from destroying Jerusalem", as described in Zacharie I believe, in a country where any self-respecting Arab analyst could predict a bitter insurgency, and a negative reaction to a prolonged occupation; in a fairly recently decolonised (from the West) region that was already highly volatile, and hyper-hostile to US over-bearing (and some say imperial) military presence in the region...

Brother W gave a more fertile ground to Al-Qaeda to justify its existence, and come harm innocent civilians here in the US, and elsewhere on the planet... claims not to be there for oil or a new military presence, yet the existing deal negotiations on the ground show otherwise, on both fronts... promised 15 billion $ for AIDS in Africa that they yet have to receive...

Furthermore, on the homefront, Brother W leads an Administration that is more interested in focusing on how Americans make use of their genitalia (gay rights, pornography, and yes, reproductive rights) and whether or not English and Fundamentalist Christianity should dominate public life, rather than how they can make better use of their brains (how about actually putting money equally to all schools, for this No Child Left Behind scheme), how to increase their chances to stay alive in a dangerous environment (the lapsing of that weapon ban anyone?), how to guarantee the painfully gained rights of minorities in this country (that voting rights act is about to lapse!), or for that matter, the security of this country, because you know that the mess he has created in Iraq has the potential to haunt this country for DECADES in the future! Land of the Free, Home of the brave indeed...

So what do I take out of all this. They both lied, but one lie did kill for no clear and objective reason. Clinton did send soldier to Kosovo, and they are still there. But they have a clear and defined objective: help to reach final status for Kosovo. They (Clinton and co) went without UN approval, which is wrong. But they were savvy and humble enough to patch-up the situation with their allies, and the world... and they had clear vindicating proof that they had to do something, or people were going to be massacred. Bush went to Iraq without UN support which is wrong. But he was too arrogant and to self-confident to truly level with the rest of the World, thus jeopardizing their potential support... plus he had no clear evidence that he was justified to go there (no WMDs). If the argument before the War had been regime change, we would probably not have this discussion (and actually probably no war at all). But it was not, was it? Result: tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, and 1300 US soldiers give or take... Clinton lied, and it was sleazy... but no one died - from that lie. Bush lied, and we can count the dead every day. That seems worse to me. But that is just my opinion.


Brian said...

Remember: the first European settlers in America were the Puritans. We've never completely outgrown the effects of that mentality.

paulataturk said...

The Australians say "better to be convicts than Puritans"

Black River Eagle said...

All politicians lie, it's part of the job. If you haven't learned this by now then you haven't been paying attention at university or in your day-to-day life in America, Europe, or back on the African continent.

Now, when the Republicans started the witchhunt and impeachment proceedings against former President Clinton I was 100% behind the President and furious with the Republican Party. Nonetheless, Clinton let the nation down with his disgusting antics in the Oval Office, and he let the whole nation down BIGTIME. God knows he let his family down even more not to mention the damage it caused Monica Lewinsky or whatever her name is (or was). In retrospect, I believe that he should have been impeached not for his infidelity but for wasting the taxpayers money while he was getting his weekly blowjobs.

As far as Clinton's record on invasions and war and global security and human rights goes shall we talk about his administration's failures in Rwanda and Somalia and Afghanistan and other hotspots around the globe? The fact that Clinton chose not to act decisively (along with many other world leaders who didn't do sh-t) in these countries costs as many human lives if not more than the body count you and others so generously attribute to the present Bush administration. It is not a defense of Bush, it is simply a matter of fact. If I'm wrong, then correct me please.

Americans might be a bit prudish and puritanical in our views re: the sexual behavior of our national leaders vs. the norms of other societies but that's fine with us. We demand a great deal from our public officials from the President on down to the cop on the beat and we demand a great deal from one another. Rarely do we live up to these high standards but they are there to act as ideals that all of U.S. should strive for and attempt to practice in our lives everyday.

This doesn't make us better than other people around the world but it does help to make the U.S. somewhat different. History will show if these "differences" were collectively beneficial for humankind or not. A careful study of world history and other disciplines shows us the effects (good and bad) of many other civilizations and societies that came long before our own. Not a pretty picture if you ask me.

BTW Brian:
The first European "settlers" at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 were not necessarily Puritans as you state here but were a mixed lot of adventurers and military men sent to counteract the activities of the Spanish troops (Catholics to the core) down in Florida and in the Carribean.

Check out the interview with Peter Wood, Professor of History at Duke University over at PBS Africans in America (Part 1) site. Here is the link:

TheMalau said...

My dear friend BRE,
I was not expecting such a defensive posture from you... I guess you are American, so it is understandable.

I am definitely not, but I do like the country where I live (the USA). A lot. In African traditions we say that if you see a rat in your friend's house, and you don't tell them, you are a very bad friend. So I find it to be my duty to express my opinion when I feel something is going astray here. And I do try to do it as respectfully as my conscience will let me.

No one needs to remind me of all people, of the inaction of the US in Rwanda: I was living there at the time, and my mother worked for the UN system. They sent all the info on the impending catastrophe, and and "the powers" (US included)did absolutely sqwat, nada, rien, nothing.

That Clinton is in great part responsible for that is no question... although he did have fairly hostile legislature. And after Somalia, he had to deal with a US public opinion that could not handle - this is my opinion - to see additional US soldiers die for a whole bunch of worthless niggers in the middle of nowhere, where there was no US interest (You should watch "Sometimes in April", which is sooo accurate from what I remember). I always thought human life was a US interest... I am being overly sarcastic. The death toll was (as of now) larger in those conflicts, than it is now with the Iraq War. I am not trying to justify Clinton's inaction.

All I am trying to say, is that Clinton's inaction should not be the de facto excuse to justify/condone/minimize all of the
excesses, illegalities and injustices of the current situation, under Bush. And Bush has ALL the institutions on his side - even God, if we listen to him. I am tired of everybody trying to find excuses for him, or trying to justify a clumsy and fallaciously based occupation that is now a fait-accompli - and we have to deal with it realistically (not a la Murtha, although the guy is pretty courageous). It is and was misleading, and will still be misleading tomorrow. That, of course, alongside liberticide policies like the Patriot Act.

And some may be cynical and tell "well, tough luck, he is the President, and we are the US, and we can do whatever we want, as long as we think we are right". It may very well be the case. But the laws of this country - that even my Black cousins here could not benefit of until fairly recently - state that I have every right to vocally oppose them, and that is what I do.

As for the higher standards that US people hold their leaders and each other to. I do not think that scrutinizing the sexual life of our leaders qualifies as higher standards. Not unless we are looking for our next pastor. And from living here, what bothers me in your statement, is that I hear it from many people, but it feels - forgive me for saying this - hypocritical. I can elaborate later if you wish me to. But the US is different, like evry country is different. As for whether their influence is positive or not on the world, I don't know. All I know is that the same country that brought us the Internet, and preaches the virtues of democracy, is the same country that entertained for many years repressive dictators all over... and the COld war is not a good enough excuse. I wonder...

TheMalau said...

In addition, I do know that all politicians lie. That does not mean people should not call them up on it. When the people loses interest in the running of the city, and takes for granted that nothing can be done about the corruptible nature of politicians, democracy is in great danger...
I believe that is a pretty accurate paraphrase of JJ-Rousseau, in "The Social Contract"

Black River Eagle said...

Hmmph. Good to have you back Malau. Look's like it is going to be a very hot Winter 2005 going into Spring. I like it hot as you well know.

TheMalau said...

I do know my friend :)
Although Hot? Are you kidding? Are you not vfeeling the 10 F windchills?
I am definitely not designed for this weather.

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