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Monday, January 05, 2004


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Pat O'Shaughnessy

Matt, Why do you contend that principle and self-interest are mutually exclusive when it is more likely that, at least in democratic states, they are symbiotic? It is wholly within the compelling interest of a free state that governs by the consent of its citizens, to propagate similiar constitutional republics. Further, free people are TRULY able to act in their own "enlightened self-interest" as Hobbes claimed, and thus, the companion free market benefits and strategic alliances will benefit other free societies.
Next, although Lincoln dallied in destroying slavery until the Union had a genuine battlefield victory, you must acknowledge that his pre-secession campaign rhetoric was embraced by the key abolitionists of the day. That is why his election instantly caused the secession crisis.
As to "Every nation wants recognition as a respectable, honorable state"...and..."the more highly regarded a state's reputation, the more weighty its opinion."...I think you might consider that some states are content to be rogues in the world and don't care one bit about ethical standing. Power, wealth and hegemony often serve to supplant any wisp of idealism. Witness the "worker's utopia" of the Soviet system that murdered and enslaved the very workers it purported to value. Mr. Gorbachev's kindly personna notwithstanding, he succumbed to relentless pressure from the West and his own discontented citizenry.
Do you believe that most Americans assume a nexus between Islamo-facist Terrorists and Saddam Hussein? I believe that it was the crucial inference. The common sense reaction to 9-11, Saddam's "bad boy" defiance, the shadowy and fluid nature of Islamicist terror, the tactical realities of asymmetrical war AND the widely-held scolding of Iraq's quest for lots of very dangerous toys was a self-interested attack. I reject your contention of principle as a "fall back point". All of these things and genocidal human rights violations were cited repeatedly in the slow motion lead-up to war.
France displayed its crypto-antisemitism and renewed taste for colonial power in Chirac's grab for influence. It could be argued that it all backfired and was thus, not in France's best interest. The EU's constitution, now in tatters without ratification, suffered at the Franco-German coup attempt against "new Europe" and "little Europe". The French diplomacy was mere camouflage for baser goals and I like your appeasement analogy. As for me, I say, "Let them eat snails!"
I like the weighty nature of your subject choice: principle & self interest. Postulate that, for Americans,indeed all who would dare to prosper in human freedom, the two must be inextricably linked. Let me know what you think. -O'

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