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This isn't the real America

Nov 14, 2005 11:02 PM
by Kathy

Off topic, but I thought this was a very good article

This isn't the real America
By Jimmy Carter, JIMMY CARTER was the 39th president of the United 
States. His newest book is "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral 
Crisis," published this month by Simon & Schuster.

IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of 
radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles 
espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican. 

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic 
and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human 

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens 
with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs 
with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence 
from the restraints of international organizations and have 
disavowed long-standing global agreements  including agreements on 
nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international 
system of justice.

Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority 
unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a 
policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other 
nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other 
purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we 
brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct 
discussions to resolve disputes. 

Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. 
leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.

These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who 
believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not 
be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in 
combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist 
attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" 
has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension 
of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.

Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of 
national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated 
exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to 
fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been 
asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to 
conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties. 

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human 
rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly 
violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act. 

Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva 
accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and 
Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with 
the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to 
see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should 
be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or 
punishment" on people in U.S. custody. 

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their 
further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of 
others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate 
or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated 
during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in 
global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the 
prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear 
nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of 
weapons in space.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of 
government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry 
and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought 
continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost 
universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented 
favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. 
Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year 
since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among 
industrialized nations).

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of 
worship and in government, as church and state have become 
increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the 
unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country 
should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to 
combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality 
of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of 
providing human assistance to people in need. 

It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within 
our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a 
common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and 
moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years. 

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