Glenn Greenwald is soon becoming one of my favorite civil libertarians. In today's Salon he does a fantastic job of summing up the malady affecting neoconservatives in our modern era - the stunning hypocrisy of purporting to be the unabashed saviors of democracy and freedom while in fact working against those ends in both domestic and international policy.
Using a Weekly Standard rant on the ACLU's well-known support of due process for U.S. prisoners he poses the question:
Between (a) an organization that works tirelessly for basic due process and Constitutional liberties for everyone and (b) a political movement which demands their rejection, does it really take any effort to see which side is vigorously defending core American principles and which side is waging war on them? And given how due-process-free imprisonment is one of the most potent recruiting tools for Islamic extremists (as reported by David Rohde, Johann Hari, Gen. McChyrstal, and even the Pentagon's own 2004 Task Force) -- to say nothing of the endless aggressive wars cheered on by The Weekly Standard's play-acting warriors -- does it take any effort to see who Al Qaeda's "useful idiots" and stalwart allies truly are?Hawks on national defense who treat human rights loosely have proven time and time again that protecting the United States from "terrorism" in the name of "freedom" results mainly in the continued application of terror in our name against freedom, human rights and Constitutional government. Every time The United States proves itself willing to resort to illegal and inhumane practices, it weakens our nation and its laws in very real ways and leads to a perpetuation of external terrorism around the globe.
The recent conservative outrage against Obama's bow to the Japanese emperor - an action which does not demean the one bowing but shows respect - seems to remove any question: much of the modern Right sees U.S. courtesy and diplomacy as a weakness, somehow damaging in and of itself, while excusing blatant assaults against liberty under the guise of pragmatism. The pillars of modern hawkishness - illegal, indefinite detention of prisoners without charges, torture and inhumane treatment and frequent, half-justifiable action against foreign nations in these circles is seen as strength, while the rule of law, respect for human rights and diplomacy is seen almost as treason, actions taking to weaken the nation rather than bolster its image and shake the message of anti-American terrorists around the globe.
Rather than see "terrorists" as human beings recruited to a misguided, foolish cause, this type of policy sees them as a force of nature, one that cannot be reasoned with or made to see the benefits of freedom by its actual application. No, by treating insurgents (even ones who have perpetuated terror attacks) as less than human and unworthy of the treatment we give even our worst citizens, we reinforce our image around the globe as the enemy of Islam in the minds of those misguided enough to see this as a holy war. By waging endless wars without end we become what we purport to fight against, and the noble goals of our nation's founding serve no purpose unless they are actually lived up to.
No, a hawkish, violent and arrogant foreign policy appeals mainly to those without the subtlety to appreciate virtue, relish ideals and respect the founding U.S. principles of populism, human rights and liberty. As Greenwald states powerfully in his closing paragraph (which I won't summarize here because this powerful article is powerful reading), the very people who have championed themselves the saviors of America are, through their hubris, leading quite directly both to its moral and physical destruction.
Read the article