Friday, March 30, 2012

Quotes for Friday from Jimmy Carter's Our Endangered Values

Powerful lobbyists, both inside and outside government, have distorted an admirable American belief in free enterprise into the right of extremely rich citizens to accumulate and retain more and more wealth and pass all of it to descendants. [3]

Nowadays, the Washington scene is completely different, with almost every issue decided on a strictly partisan basis. Probing public debate on key legislative decisions is almost a thing of the past. Basic agreements are made between lobbyists and legislative leaders, often within closed party caucuses where rigid discipline is paramount. [8] 

This deterioration in harmony, cooperation, and collegiality in Congress is, at least in part, a result of the rise of fundamentalist tendencies and their religious and political impact. [8]

... A country will have authority and influence because of moral factors, not its military strength; because it can be humble not blatant and arrogant; because our people and our country want to serve others and not dominate others. And a nation without morality will soon lose its influence around the world. [59]

There is a strong religious commitment to the sanctity of human life, but, paradoxically, some of the most fervent protectors of microscopic stem cells are the most ardent proponents of the death penalty. [78]

More than seven Americans out of a thousand are now imprisoned - most of them for nonviolent crimes. This is the highest incarceration rate in the world, exceeding Russia's former record of six per thousand. Among the busiest construction industries in many states is building more jail cells, and job opportunities for prison guards have skyrocketed. [79/80]

Perhaps the strongest argument against the death penalty is the extreme inequity in its employment: it is biased against the poor, the demented, and minorities, and designed or least applied to protect white victims. It is not surprising that since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 76 percent of those sentenced to death, even in federal courts, have been members of minority groups. [84]

The fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted black men the right to vote in 1870, ninety-four years after the declaration "All men are created equal." It was fifty years later that American women finally won the same right... [86]

While I was leading a Carter Center delegation to Havana the following year, Bolton announced falsely that Cuba's pharmaceutical industry was involved in the production of biological weapons of mass destruction. The Cubans immediately offered to permit US scientists to inspect the facilities, but there was no response from Washington. When he could not force intelligence to corroborate his statements, Bolton attempted to have them discharged or transferred to other posts. This action epitomizes the politicization by top policy makers of intelligence information, which led to the fiasco over incorrect claims that Iraq had massive arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. [97]

"It is a big mistake four us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so - because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States" by John Bolton, United States' ambassador to the United Nations [98]

"[T]he United Nations is valuable only when it directly serves the United Nations." by John Bolton, United States' ambassador to the United Nations [98]

Either before or soon after 9/11, he [Richard Cheney] and his close associates chose Iraq as the first major target, apparently to remove the threat to Israel and to have Iraq serve as our permanent military, economic, and political base in the Middle East. [100]

Although there are many other complicating political factors, the tendency of fundamentalists to choose certain emotional issues  for demagoguery and to avoid negotiation with dissenters has adversely affected American foreign policy. One notable example is that some American political leaders have adopted Fidel Castro as the ultimate human villain, and have elevated the small and militarily impotent nation of Cuba as one of the greatest threats to our nation's security and culture. [102]

American policy toward our entire hemisphere has been misshaped by this obsession. It has become almost impossible for any career diplomat who does not demonstrate a near-fanatic commitment to the isolation of the Cuban people to acquire a high post in the State Department, and this philosophy permeates American embassies throughout the region. [104/5]

The ICC charter, signed in 2002 by 139 nations, was carefully drafted to prevent punishment of Americans for genocidal acts overseas, provided US courts will address any such crimes. However, the United States is now attempting to force subservient nations to guarantee blanket immunity for American military personnel, contractor employees, and tourists. [106]

An April 2005 public opinion revealed that 29.5 percent of South Koreans consider United States to be their greatest threat, compared with 18.4 percent who named North Korea. Among university students, 50.1 percent saw America as the major obstacle to peace in the peninsula. [111]

Two months in advance, as customary, I notified the State Department and the White House of my travel plans, and almost immediately received a call from the president's national security adviser. He informed me that Syria had not been cooperative in some issues involving the nearby war in Iraq, and that US policy was to restrict all visits to Damascus as a means of putting pressure on President Bashar a-Assad. After a somewhat heated discussion, he requested officially and on behalf of the president that our visit be canceled. [113]

Following the attacks of 9/11, the US government overreacted by detaining more than twelve hundred innocent men throughout America, none of whom were ever convicted of any crime related to terrorism. Their identities have been kept secret, and they were never given the right to hear charges against themselves or to have legal counsel. Almost all of them were Arabs or Muslims, and many have been forced to leave America. [118]

After visiting six of the twenty-five or so US prisons, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported registering 107 detainees under eighteen, some as young as eight years old. The Journalist Seymour Hersh reported in May 2005 that there were "800-900 Pakistani boys 13-15 years of age in custody." [119]

Military officials reported that at least 108 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq, Afghanistan, and  other secret locations just since 2002, with homicide acknowledged as the cause of death in at least 28 cases. The fact that only one of these was in Abu Ghraid prison indicates the widespread pattern of prisoner abuse, certainly not limited to the actions or decisions of just a few rogue enlisted persons. [122]

"The president, despite domestic and international laws constraining the use of torture, has authority as Commander in Chief to approve almost any physical or psychological actions during interrogations, up to and including torture" Department of Defense [127]

"In my judgment, this new [post 9/11] paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions" by White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales, now Attorney General, the chief law enforcer of the United States [127]

The techniques of torture are almost indescribably terrible, including, as a US ambassador to one of the recipient countries recipient countries reported, "partial boiling of a hand or an arm," with at least two prisoners boiled to death. [128]

The primary goal of torture or the threat of torture is not to obtain convictions for crimes, but to engender and maintain fear. Some of our leaders have found that it is easy to forgo human rights for those who are considered to be subhuman, or "enemy combatants". [129]

He [Alberto Gonzales] justifies an extension of the program permitting CIA agents to deal with suspects in foreign prison sites by claiming that the ban of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment does not apply to American interrogations of foreigners overseas. [129]

There are now almost 30,000 nuclear weapons worldwide, of which the United States possesses about 12,000, Russia 16,000, China 400, France 350, Israel 200, Britain 185, and India and Pakistan 40 each. It is believed that North Korea has enough enriched nuclear fuel for a half dozen weapons. [135]

"I would characterize current US nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous." Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense [136]

US policy is threatening the effectiveness of international agreements that have been laboriously negotiated by almost all previous presidents. Perhaps even more disturbing as a threat to the maintenance of global stability is the unprecedented adoption of a policy of preventive war. [149]

Exaggerated claims of catastrophe from nonexistent weapons of mass destruction kept fears alive, with Vice President Dick Cheney repeatedly making false statements, such as "Instead of losing thousands of lives, we might lose tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of lives in a single day of war." National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice backed him with horrifying references to mushroom clouds over the cities of America, and Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations to make a conglomeration of inaccurate statements to the world. The administration later claimed that its information was erroneous, but intelligence sources were rewarded, not chastised. [151]

We and our British allies have made an official decision to refrain from counting or estimating the number of civilian deaths, and there are wide ranges in the published  numbers. A respected British medical journal, Lancet, has reported that allied forces (especially the air force) have killed a hundred thousand Iraqi noncombatants. [157]

Another example is Washington's official announcement of one of its most noteworthy achievements:  that more than forty-one thousand AIDS victims in Botswana have received life-extending treatments from the United States. Top managers of the Botswana's treatment program were irate, reporting that no American money had arrived and calling the US claims "false, and gross misrepresentation of the facts." the more accurate number of patients in Botswana who had been put on treatment because of American help: zero. [188/9]

The annual United States foreign aid budget for fighting malaria, for instance, has been $90 million, but 95 percent is being spent on consultations and less than 5 percent on mosquito nets, drugs, and insecticide spraying to fight the disease[188]

Another indication of the growing division between the rich and poor in recent years is that the salaries for corporate chief executive officers have gone from forty times to four hundred times the average worker's pay. Even though there was a strong growth in corporate profits, wages for the average worker fell in 2004, after adjusting for inflation - the first such drop in many years. [193]

While there is a sharp downward trend in worldwide expenditures for weapons during the past twenty years, the United States has continued to increase its military budget every year. It now exceeds $ 400 billion annually, equal to the total in all other nations combined. [198/9]

American presidents have intervened about fifty times in foreign countries. In addition to supplying our own military forces, America's arms manufacturers and those of our NATO allies provide 80 percent of weapon sales on the international market. [198]


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