Friday, December 16, 2005
A Giant Among Pygmies - William J. Fulbright (1905-1995)
"Back in 1987, Senator Fulbright gave the commencement address at my graduation from U of Miami. It was an excellent speech that revealed a level of understanding of world affairs that is rare among the corridors of power in this country. After a 30-year Senate career, he died in 1995 at the age of 89.
"Excerpts from the Arrogance of Power are given below, which has striking relevance in the context of the current Iraq misadventure.
"On American foreign policy:
- Throughout our history two strands have coexisted uneasily; a dominant strand of democratic humanism and a lesser but durable strand of intolerant Puritanism. There has been a tendency through the years for reason and moderation to prevail as long as things are going tolerably well or as long as our problems seem clear and finite and manageable. But... when some event or leader of opinion has aroused the people to a state of high emotion, our puritan spirit has tended to break through, leading us to look at the world through the distorting prism of a harsh and angry moralism.
"Fulbright also related his opposition to any American tendencies to intervene in the affairs of other nations:
- Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations — to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue and tends also to take itself for omnipotence. Once imbued with the idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means as well as the duty to do God's work.
"He was a strong believer in international law:
- Law is the essential foundation of stability and order both within societies and in international relations. As a conservative power, the United States has a vital interest in upholding and expanding the reign of law in international relations. Insofar as international law is observed, it provides us with stability and order and with a means of predicting the behavior of those with whom we have reciprocal legal obligations. When we violate the law ourselves, whatever short-term advantage may be gained, we are obviously encouraging others to violate the law; we thus encourage disorder and instability and thereby do incalculable damage to our own long-term interests."
Sources: Wikipedia.org CommonDreams.org
"It is a good thing the good senator is no more. Today's powers-that-be would have branded his words above as irresponsible, unpatriotic, unchristian, UN-loving, terrorist-supporting, michael moore-like claptrap. His tax records would have been audited by the IRS and his phones tapped by the FBI. O'Reilly would have called him 'Frenchie', Cheney would have called him 'dangerous', Rice ' a friend of Saddam', Limbaugh 'deliriously left-wing' and Gary Bauer 'gay'.