I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ungraceful follow up

With my last entry being one about Laura, I've been feeling a little restrained on my next blog posting. I couldn't think of any graceful way to move from a reflection on love and death and memory to a post about current events. So, I've just decided to do it gracelessly.

I am not a republican, and in NC that means I can't vote in the republican primary. Which is a shame, because I finally found someone I could imagine voting for among the major parties--Ron Paul. In the last debate, one of the big news items was how strong Rudy Guiliani came out of it because he had smacked down Ron Paul for daring to suggest that American foriegn policy somehow led to 9-11.

I was barely aware of Ron Paul before the news started reporting what an idiot he was. After the debate, I heard commentators on the radio saying his campaign was probably over now--not that it had ever been alive before. I was vaguely aware he was the only republican running for president who had opposed the war in Iraq from the start, and that he had been the Libertarian candidate for president back in 88. Outside of this, I didn't much care to spend the time to learn his opinions.

I didn't watch the debate, but I've since gone and read transcripts and have to conclude, despite the reaction of the crowd, Guiliani was wrong and Ron Paul was right. Guiliani, Bush, and countless others on the right seem to have the public position that 9-11 was caused purely due to evil. Osama bin Ladin devoted his time and attention to killing American's because he's evil personified, an agent of the devil, utterly without any motivation other than wickedness.

The US, on the otherhand, is incapable of wrongdoing. Sure, we kill a lot of people. Dating back to the first gulf war, we've unquestionably killed tens of thousands of Islamic civilians with bombings, and made life miserable for millions with sanctions and destruction of infrastructure and by funnelling support to dictators in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This has nothing to do with evil though... it's all perfectly rational and virtuous responses to evil.

Here's the thing: I think that most of our reactions are rational. It's not that hard to rationalize supporting the Saudi's when the world's energy supply depends on stability. It's not so hard to rationalize invading Afghanistan when they shelter terrorists who've successfully struck us at home. There's even a certain logic that can be followed into overthrowing Saddam Hussein and plunging a country into chaos and war for a decade or more, causing the death of hundreds of thousands and economic and political turmoil. The invasion has the same logic as chemotherapy--it's going to cause a lot of pain and suffering now, but in the gamble that it will eliminate a larger threat. And, it's possible to rationalize embracing and supporting the only dictatorship absolutely proven to have developed nuclear weapons and illegally transferring the technology to our enemies--Pakistan--since Pakistan publicly supports us, and in diplomacy what you say overrides what you do.

I'm NOT arguing that US foreign policy is evil. I won't proclaim it virtuous, but I will say that I believe it is designed by men who believe themselves to be virtuous and reasonable and acting for the long-term good of mankind. Of course, I also think this is the basic mindset of terrorists as well. They are certain that they are virtuous, rational, and that their actions are the only long-term hope of mankind.

The opinions in that last paragraph are my own, and I have no idea how Ron Paul would feel abot them. I'm pretty certain Giuliani or Bush or McCain would shout them down. If I were writing these ideas in Iraq or Afghanistan, most republicans would probably feel perfectly comfortable with arresting me and putting me in a cell in Cuba with no hope of trial or appeal. (Side note: Right now, per square mile of Cuban soil, who do you think is holding more people in jail with no trials--Castro or Bush? I don't know the answer, but isn't it bothersome that this is even a question at all?)

So, I salute Ron Paul for being thoughtful, honest, and courageous enough to say what he said to an audience he must have known would be hostile. I don't think he'll win the nomination; I don't even know if he'll be invited to future debates. But, if some sort of mysterious plague strikes and he winds up being the last surviving republican candidate... I could vote for him without holding my nose. I haven't felt his way about a major party candidate for twenty years.

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