Sunday, January 23, 2005

Bush's Ethics

This article is a review of a book by Peter Singer, called The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush. Singer examines Bush's ethical decisions from the point of view of different schools of thought and finds him inconsistent from the perspective of all of them. The chilling conclusion:

The conclusion Singer finds most plausible regarding George W. Bush's ethics may be the most disturbing. Singer notes that a high number of key Bush administration officials are disciples of a philosopher called Leo Strauss. Strauss, who taught at the University of Chicago until his death in 1973, argued that many of the great ancient philosophers, particularly the Greeks, wrote in a kind of code. Only a select intellectual elite were capable of absorbing the esoteric meaning latent in the texts, while the hoi polloi took everything at face value. The Straussians believe that the masses are simply not equipped to handle the often-grim truths that underlie political and world affairs (remember the old saying: there are two things you never want to see being made, sausages and legislation). But according to Singer the Straussians go even further, suggesting that sometimes the ‘aristocratic gentlemen' charged with governing a polity lack the sophistication to handle the truth. In such cases the elite advisors must be prepared to mislead not just the masses with noble lies, but also the leader. Singer points out that this might explain why Bush's false assertion that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Niger stayed in his State of the Union address while other agencies like the CIA and the State Department regarded it as untrue. It might also explain why Bush appeared on Polish television telling viewers that the U.S. had discovered mobile weapons labs in Iraq, a story disproven weeks before. However, the idea that Bush could claim in the presence of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that “we gave him [Saddam] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in,” strikes Singer as almost too bizarre for belief – Bush had, after all, recalled the inspectors himself before their job was completed. Singer goes so far as to speculate that Bush was intoxicated, on drugs, or perhaps out of his mind when he uttered such obviously preposterous statements. But Singer quickly discounts such explanations, finding it far more plausible that the president may in fact be a patsy or a puppet – with the Machiavellians pulling the strings on the man from Mayberry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The excellent BBC documentary series The Power of Nightmares, by Adam Curtis does an excellent job of presenting the history of Leo Strauss's ideas, and their influence behind current US policy and the "War on Terror". The Neo-con's are basically Strauss's intellectual children, who went into politics after finding it difficult to get their ideas accepted against the liberal consensus of academia in the 1970s. It also follows the developments of the ideas behind radical Islam, which developed from ideas also developed in the 1950s by an Egyptian who was in America for business reasons. These ideas (the gradual widening in the concept of who could be counted as not a true muslim) became more radical as various Middle Eastern governments took action to control these people who became terrorists.

A fascinating and terrifying study.