I guess when the Bush administration says they’re exporting democracy they mean actually exporting it out of the United States and sending it somewhere else. The current fight over the overreaching provisions in the Patriot Act, our nation’s newfound fondness for torturing prisoners and the revelation that the President authorized the NSA to spy on its own citizens are emblematic of the larger struggle over the future of this Republic. Add to this brew the continuing revelations of the extent this administration lied us into war and then think back to the Iran-Contra scandal and you start to get a very clear picture of how hungry are some in power to deprive the rest of us of our once-famous American liberties.
Put simply, will America evolve into a more-enlightened democracy, or devolve into at best a corporate-sponsored oligarchy – and at worst a theo-fascistic dictatorship?
Jimmy Carter writes about this current divide eloquently in his new book, Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis. The rise of fundamentalism in America has instilled some with such self-righteousness that they no longer trust the light of democracy to shine on their grand plans. They are right. Period. They know what’s best for us. Period. If you disagree in the slightest you are aiding and comforting the enemy and need to be smited right alongside the terrorists/gays/environmentalists/pinot drinkers you are alleged to have coddled.
This dangerously fundamentalist attitude didn’t begin with the present Bush administration. Remember the current Bushies are mainly a cobbled together “dream team” from the regimes of Reagan and Bush senior. Neoconservatism was in its infancy back then and Leo Strauss devotees like Paul Wolfowitz and Michael Ledeen, convinced that liberalism was leading the nation astray, decided that desperate measures were needed to right the ship of state.
It was Ledeen, then working at the NSC in the Reagan administration, who helped broker the deal to circumvent Congress’ prohibition on funding the Nicaraguan Contras by selling arms to the Iranians. The money for the Contras was to be only the beginning. If they had not been caught the grander scheme was to create a permanent slush fund for black ops, bypassing the Congressional oversight that the conspirators claimed had hobbled the CIA and the NSA.
Of course today Ledeen is hip-deep in the Yellowcake scandal, is Karl Rove’s foreign-policy advisor and worked for the Pentagon outfit that worked most aggressively to lie us into war, Douglas Feith’s Office of Special Plans.
Rove and Ledeen share a love for Machiavelli. According to Yuricareport.com here is what Ledeen has written about the author in Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli’s Iron Rules Are as Timely and Important Today as Five Centuries Ago (Truman Talley Books/St. Martin’s Press, 1999).
“We should not be outraged by Machiavelli’s call for a temporary dictatorship as an effective means to either revivify or restore freedom.” (p. 174)
Actually, Mr. Ledeen is wrong. We should be outraged. We are outraged. And we’ll be damned if we let a small cadre of nutballs trample our hard-fought freedoms.