The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

American Experiment RIP

I’m having the argument about whether it’s worth prosecuting war criminals in the US for torture.  A friend pointed out that we all know that investigations will lead inexorably to Cheney, and probably to George Bush, and suggested that such prosecutions would rip the country apart.

My response is:

If you’re not willing to fight that fight, what separates you from Germans after WWII?

Note that Germans who were in no way involved with the concentration camps were hung for the crime of pre-emptive war.

Bush is a war criminal even if he didn’t know anything about torture.

The US is a rogue state, and until America faces that fact, a lot of people outside the US isn’t going to trust it.

Does that matter?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

But America is still a nation that’s harboring war criminals and refusing to deal with it.  Whether or not war crime prosecutions will rip America apart, the dead and the tortured cry out for justice.

Are the US a nation of men or of laws?

We all know the answer.  America has made its decision.  Not just in the case of the war crimes, but in the steadfast refusal to investigate and prosecute the widespread fraud that lead to the currently economic crisis.

America is a nation of men.

And the American experiment is dead.  It was a grand one, and there was much to love about it. But it’s done.

Bush put a bullet in it, Obama decided to bury it, and the fact that most Americans don’t care is what signs the death certificate.


What Obama’s Refusal to Investigate Torture Reveals About America


Is Comparing America to Germany Absurd?


  1. Formerly T-Bear

    More than six decades ago, one of the first reading exercises was to read the story “A Man Without A Country”, wherein a defendant had uttered that he wished never to hear of the country again. A resonance, was made, some part reverberated and an identity was forged and not forgotten. Forty five years later, an exile began, self-imposed for sure, that law was incapable of providing security for citizens. Since, that story has overtaken reality; and I too find myself “A Man Without A Country”, a country that I can identify with honour; that country does not exist, and maybe never did.

    America is now a nation of small, puny and insignificant men hardly worthy of the name. (Small correction, no charge)

    The epitaph: “Bush put a bullet in it, and Obama decided to bury it, and the fact that most Americans don’t care is what signs the death certificate” is spot on. R.I.P.

  2. John B.

    Yeah, I know Ian. I don’t feel very good about this…

  3. jussumbody

    I agree completely. I knew it was over when the SCOTUS handed the preznitzy to Bush/Cheney. The way the media covered his whole first year, even before 9/11, let me know the fix was in. Our seeming inability to reform our government and now our economy are our undoing. No one wanted to jinx the seeming good times when the economy was riding high. But if we wait until we’re in the toilet, it most likely will be too late (if it isn’t already). And all my apprehensions about Obama have turned out to be well founded.

    But personally any “ripping” apart caused by prosecuting war criminals would be a very healthy thing, and I’m pretty sure well over half of the US would not feel ripped apart. The only thing to rip out is the cancer that is killing this country.

  4. senecal

    “And the American experiment is dead. It was a grand one, and there was much to love about it. But it’s done.
    Bush put a bullet in it, Obama decided to bury it. . .”

    We all agree here. However, the death throes are older than that, go back at least to Woody Wilson, maybe Lincoln. As soon as Wall Street began appointing the Treasury Secretary, that’s when it was all over. Whoops, that almost goes back to Hamilton!

    In a sense, America acts like any other nation — you do what you can get away with. And American citizens act like most others — they believe in their country. It would be hard to live day to day without thinking you were part of some larger organizm that was trying to make things better for you. The majority, understandably, abhor radical change.

  5. It has long been my conviction that the Y2K nuts had it right, they just didn’t quite get their fingers wrapped around it: the appointment in the face of the loss of both the popular and electoral vote by an activist court stacked with ideological judges of George W Bush to the presidency* effectively marked the “End of America”.

    We are at this point on momentum. Momentum runs out.

    Oregon, encompassing as it did in it’s originality the entire Colombia River Drainage – Oregon, Washington, N. Idaho, W. Montana and S. British Colombia – was a Republic, before it was a “state”.

  6. b.

    Post-WW II Germany was guilty of many sins, but I think you are not distinguishing between Nuremberg (justice redefined, enforced from the outside), the Adenauer era (justice deferred with intent to deny), and the post-60’s Germany in which, while far from systematically, war criminals would be prosecuted and extradited.

    Unsurprisingly, there are apparently still German citizens that have been tried and sentenced in other countries (such as Italy) and have yet to be brought to justice. But by and large, post-60’s Germany accepted the guilt, and while self-inflicted justice (or even honesty – see Wehrmacht war crimes) always came in too little much too late, Germany did seek to pay off and buy off criticism by reparations to victims (to wit, the relationship to Israel as a state, which is as twisted, albeit in a different way and for very different reasons, as the US “special relationship”).

    If you break down the not-quite-post-Iraq War Two situation along similar lines, you find that (a) there is no justice of the victors, because Iraq is not in a position to inflict it, and neither is anybody else, (b) compared to the decade of Adenauer whitewash, the US is actually not doing that badly, and (c) with a 15-20 year delay (a generational shift) for self-inflicted justice, it will be a while before the verdict is in on this.

    Having said that, I agree with the expressed expectations. If you take the US handling of the genocide against the Native Americans as a baseline, review it with the handling of mass abduction, slavery and the treatment of African-Americans ever since, and throw in the Vietnam War and the apparent war crimes of the first Gulf War, it seems pretty clear that the American Experiment has been over for a long time, if it ever actually progressed beyond a dream – or, in the words of Ghandi, “a good idea” [re: western civilization]. Honestly, any peoples that blunder on the scale of the Bay Of Pigs should at least have the decency not to harbor terrorists-in-exile like Luis Posada Carriles or Orlando Bosch.

    There is nothing extraordinary about a brutal, ignorant and corrupt nation armed to the teeth, not even its tendency to claim itself to be exceptional, and hence entitled to military interventions in other, presumably even more blighted territories. Every rogue state considers itself special. Hence, between domestic tasers, remote-controlled UAVs and gun-pack-bot iMachines, the prospects for carnage are ramping up at an increasing rate.

  7. Eureka Springs

    You are probably right, Ian. B nails it too. I’ve known many of these things since I was so young I couldn’t verbalize the thoughts. But I can remember some of those thoughts and the heavy connections I made. We know most people wont sit and think when these questions (Experiment over?) are raised, much less deal with them in earnest over time.

    So it’s up to us… the ones who will deal with it.

    I’m not a preacher a teacher or a nurse. In my country I’ve had to much fun to possibly run for office now. I don’t know what to do to help the world be a better place . But fight on I will as an advocate of the best people and ideas I know of… until the damn breaks one way or the other. Things happen so fast nowadays.. we know it’s going to be a very interesting ride.

  8. Hillsfar

    It’s a continuing experiment.

    C’mon, we had slavery, we had a Civil War, we denied women the vote. Companies paid miners in script and armed goons shot union protestors. We invaded the Philippines and Vietnam and Iraq. People in prison today are little better off than they were a century ago. The Native Americans were genocided and centimated (not just decimated) and even in the 1970s, they were being sterilized without consent.

    America is not perfect and it never will be. But it will get perfected. Hey, gay marriage passed in Iowa and we have a Black president. That ought to count for something!

    Don’t give up on us yet, you Canadian. You who seem to love America so much that you write more about America than you write about Canada, yet haven’t made the citizenship plunge. 🙂

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén