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Re: More Questions than Answers

>1)	Thank you for quoting the Constitution of the United States to us. To
>often we, the citizens of this free land, forget our own origins or take
>them for granted. It always amuses me though that citizens of other nations
>love to quote, in an attempt to use our own words, our historical documents
>against us to prove their point.

It is also possible that people, foreign or domestic, quote the
U.S. Constitution to argue *for* the principles enshrined within it.
Many people worldwide love the words in those historical documents.
They hope that the U.S. will live up to them.

>Now that we have all the, correct, relevant quotations out of the way,
>Please note the very beginning of our constitution, the Preamble. Does it
>state; We the people of the world? or does it in fact state "We the people
>of the United States"? At no time was this document meant to ensure these
>values on the world at large. This is a document solely for the use of and
>by the citizens of the US of A.

As others have pointed out, it's not clear that the courts agree with you.

>As commander in chief of our armed forces, he can respond to acts of war
>for the self - defense of our country.

This is true.  For a limited time.  Remember the Gulf of Tonkin Incident
and the War Powers Act?  Even LBJ had to come up with an excuse to get
Congress to approve his actions in Vietnam.

In the current case, Congress has approved the military actions Bush
is taking.

And the military actions the U.S. and allied governments have taken thus
far have been more successful than many people predicted, as well as,
in my opinion, causing less collateral damage than they might have.
They have also been rather well orchestrated with appropriate public
statements making clear the aims of the military actions.  This is my
opinion; others may differ.

However, the actual prosecution of the war effort is a different matter
from some other actions being taken by the U.S. government.

> These actions have also been approved
>by our congress, which has given the President the full support of both
>houses of congress, Democrats, Republicans and the other assorted odds &
>ends of our full political spectrum. The tribunals do not require
>congressional approval under our constitution. And have been used
>successfully in the past during war time conditions.

The tribunals have *not* been approved by Congress.  They were unilaterally
declared by the Executive branch.

As to the tribunals being approved by all ends of our full political
spectrum, on which end would you place William Safire, former
speechwriter for President Richard Nixon and well-known columnist?
Here is the first paragraph of Safire's column of 15 November:

 ``Misadvised by a frustrated and panic-stricken attorney general,
 a president of the United States has just assumed what amounts to
 dictatorial power to jail or execute aliens. Intimidated by terrorists
 and inflamed by a passion for rough justice, we are letting George
 W. Bush get away with the replacement of the American rule of law with
 military kangaroo courts.''

In the same column he refers to Bush as Caesar.

Later, on December 6, Safire concluded his column with these words:
 ``Otherwise, our Constitution would be set aside by Cicero's ancient
 inter arma silent leges -- in time of war, the law falls silent.''

In case Safire's historical allusions are not clear, Cicero was a prominent
Roman senator and orator who opposed Julius Caesar's overthrow of the
Roman Republic.

The tribunals have also been opposed by Anthony Lewis of the New York
Times.  And the Times reports that 300 law professors have signed a letter
opposing them.

Meanwhile, several European countries (including Spain, Germany, and Britain)
have refused to hand over terrorist suspects to the U.S. if they are to be
tried under military tribunals.  They cite the U.N. human rights treaty,
which was primarily instigated by Eleanor Roosevelt (an American).

And Ashcroft has had to defend the tribunals before the Senate Judiciary
Committee.  In which he labelled anyone who opposed them as "voices of
negativism."  This would appear to include Mr. Safire, who by the way,
wrote Spiro Agnew's famous speech about ``nattering nabobs of negativism.''
Ironic, eh?

>So please everything that is being done is being done legally and with in
>the confines of OUR constitution and principles and in the best interests of
>our nation, to "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense,
>promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to
>ourselves and our posterity"

That's an interesting opinion, however it appears that quite a few people
don't agree with it.

>And let us not forget the humanitarian aid that the U.S. government
>continues to send to various areas around the world.

U.S. foreign aid per year is less in absolute terms than that provided
by France or Japan, and is about a tenth of a percent of gross national
product, which is less in percentage terms than that provided by each of
about 20 other countries.

Which is less expensive?  The approximately $7 billion the U.S. spends
on foreign aid per year, or the $40 billion Congress authorized to
deal with terrorism after the fact?

It's all very well to try to stick to one's own country in a world where
oceans protect you from attack.  When the world changes in such a way
that enemies can destroy major buildings in your largest city using your
own non-military transportation vehicles, it seems time to consider what
can be done to change the world sufficiently so that that doesn't happen.
For an interesting prior discussion of related issues, see
 Samuel P. Huntington, A Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of
 World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).

The current military actions appear to have been successful in abolishing
the pseudo-state that was harboring the current particular terrorists.
But what will stop more terrorists from popping up elsewhere?  A second
step seems needed.

The Allies in WW II defeated the Axis via military power.

Then as a second step the U.S. instituted the Marshall Plan.

The combination of those two steps produced a wealthy Europe that
threatens nobody and is a good market for U.S. products.

Is there something as clever and productive to be done today,
to produce a wealthy and less threatening world?

To follow up on a related earlier discussion with Joe Erkes, I said:

>> Speaking of unequal distribution of resources, maybe
>> we're not just talking about oil and water; maybe
>> we're also talking about information... those who know
>> more tend to be richer.  This might indicate that one
>> way to deal with poverty would be to spread
>> information.  Internet?  Education?

And he said:

>Exactly....  My underlying point was that an essential (but often
>missing) ingredient is the belief (or cultural value) that education is
>good.  Cultures and sub-cultures that don't share that cultural belief
>are going to do poorly in our increasingly technological society.

As evidence for your point, students in U.S. schools of Asian and
particularly Chinese ancestry tend to do better academically than
others, apparently mostly because Chinese culture traditionally
values learning highly.

But if traditional cultural values were all it takes,
China should have the world's highest GNP....

Experience convinces me that the free flow of information was a factor
in the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa and in the fall
of the Soviet Union.  What would happen if the U.S. and allies were to
spend a few more billion here and there on education and communication,
perhaps combined with some grass-roots financial efforts such as the
micro-banks in Bangladesh?

What does this have to do with Sinclairs?
A thousand years of family history with a supposed international strategy.
People like that should be able to come up with strategic ideas....

John S. Quarterman <jsq@quarterman.org>
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