Friday, September 30, 2011
I do not feel that I should do everything possible to overthrow any existing totalitarian state. It is not my moral responsibility to interject in every unethical occurrence in every nation on Earth. However, it is imperative to be educated on which injustices are being practiced in a totalitarian state, and to know if the government of such a state is violating certain human liberties. These basic liberties would include the right to sustain life without feeling threatened by one’s own government when working, pursuing an education, or pursuing a family life. Even after it is established that wrongs are being done, we should speak on it before we act on it. We should only act on it if we have the resources and manpower to do so without inflicting too much damage to our own military and economy.
Furthermore, no individual can confront a totalitarian state and change it; it takes a mass movement to do that. And because of extenuating economic conditions, America should choose its fights wisely. There is a United Nations and there are international laws, treaties, diplomacy and negotiations which can be used to settle internal disputes within a country and conflicts between countries. The best example would be our current war in Iraq, which started under the guise that we were to destroy Saddam Hussein’s totalitarian regime and his alleged weapons of mass destruction. Many Americans were so mislead about the conflict, they thought Hussein was behind the horrors of 9/11.
September 11, 2001 was a terrifying day for Americans and many other citizens of the world. But it is important to know the facts and adhere to international laws, to ensure the best possible moral outcome for all people involved in such a conflict. The people of the United States were told that the U.S. had to invade Iraq because its leader, Saddam Hussein, had Weapons of Mass Destruction. Congress did not hold hearings or investigations. In the media, there was no discussion on whether the U.S. should or should not go to war. An international inspection team had been allowed to look for evidence of these WMD’ s but found nothing. President Bush and Secretary of State Collin Powell said the U.S. had proof and proceeded to bomb and invade Iraq. No Weapons of Mass Destruction were ever found.
As a result, the reason for the Iraq War changed to “getting rid of the totalitarian dictator, Saddam Hussein, and bringing democracy to the people of Iraq.” But in fact, for years the US supported and was a friend of Saddam Hussein and it never mattered how he governed his country. However, oil was a big concern for the United States. Iraq’s oil, which had been nationalized under Saddam Hussein, was privatized and now is controlled by foreign oil companies. Iraq did not threaten the United States. What was the real reason for the Iraq War? In this 2008 New York Times editorial article, the confusion and deception behind the war in Iraq is made clear:
It took just a few months after the United States’ invasion of Iraq for the world to find out that Saddam Hussein had long abandoned his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. He was not training terrorists or colluding with Al Qaeda. The only real threat he posed was to his own countrymen.
Not only was it morally wrong to invade Iraq but also illegal and financially destructive to our country. The current war in Iraq/ Afghanistan / Pakistan is projected to cost 3 trillion dollars, most borrowed from China, thus adding to the national debt and deficit. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. Several million Iraqis have fled to other neighboring countries or are homeless in Iraq. More than 4,000 US soldiers have been killed. This is the price of war. And yet, there have been little ethical/moral conquests. Are the Iraqi people better off now? Is the United States better off now?
On the surface, it might seem difficult to draw a parallel between the invasion of Iraq and the invasion of Nazi Germany. However, when history is more closely examined, there are similarities. In the case with the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s, the US entered the World War II against Nazi Germany after it invaded many European countries. There was ethnic and religious discrimination against Jews in all European countries and in the United States before Nazi Germany existed. Many people in the US and Europe supported the racial superiority beliefs of Nazi Germany. At first these countries ignored the widespread racism and discrimination. Then they realized that world domination was the goal of Nazi Germany and at point became resolute on going to war against Germany, Japan and Italy. There are indications that the United States is trying to dominate the world today by interfering in other countries and “spreading democracy.”
So, what may seem to be ethical and moral strategy, might actually turn out to be economic and political strategy. Yet, whatever the political reasoning, interjection from nations opposing totalitarianism was necessary to end the horror of concentration camps. If the United States and other countries had not stood up against the fascist beliefs of Adolf Hitler, millions more human lives would have surely been brought to a senseless end. The Nazi party had achieved what Arendt branded as “total domination,” and it had to be destroyed on all levels before it spread any further. The idea of total domination is horrific in nature; totalitarianism is usually associated with violence, but the terrors going on in concentration camps were despicable beyond belief.
In this passage, Hannah Arendt explains the premise behind concentration camps:
Totalitarian domination attempts to achieve this goal both through ideological indoctrination- the testing ground in which the latter must prove itself- while the appalling spectacle of the camps themselves is supposed to furnish the “theoretical” verification of the ideology. (Arendt, p. 124. pp. 2)
In conclusion, yes I stand up against totalitarian regimes. However, war is a strong gesture, and we should try all other means of action before we go to war, even against a totalitarian regime. Sometimes the answers to our questions cannot be seen on the 6 o’ clock news. As citizens of a democracy and citizens of the world, it is our duty to be sure our government is acting in a way that is both moral and ethical. If we are not careful, the United States could be the next nation to be subscribing to ideals of Total Domination.