Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The more I think about the problems associated with the Iranian negotiations the more I liken them to what happened in Cuba. At the urging of anticommunist forces in our congress spurred on by immigrant Cubans, our government initiated an embargo in response to Castro’s declaration to establish a communist friendly dictatorship. As with other “free countries” that aligned themselves with the action, Congressional representatives also rushed to identify with tough-talking rhetoric, etc. Clearly, the objective of the embargo was to topple the Castro regime, but equally clear is that after 50 years the sanctions against Castro failed; in fact, the sanctions had the opposite effect. Most people of the Untied States knew the sanctions had failed; in spite of that, a small cadre of congressional representative who are the offspring of Cubans and are beholden to Cuban “refugees” for election, insisted on maintaining the sanctions; Menendez, Rubio, Cruz for example.

Now, a group from the Republican Party wants current sanctions against Iran to continue; they are dead set against negotiating with Iran. Superficially, the reason seems unlike those associated with Cuba, which was the fear of an armed Russian collaborator off our coast but also violation of the Monroe Doctrine; Central and South America is ours to corrupt as we see fit; Europe keep your hands off. This second reason related to the conservative business world loomed large but not talked about; loss of casinos, gamblers, loss of markets, as well as sugar and other “price controlled” resources.

In the conservative playbook, the fundamental premise is, “to dominate is to control”. This is what we see in all modern conservative policy. Fiscal frugality, retaining the past, etc no longer applies; it has devolved to power. This is as true of gender and family, race, labor unions, as it is of international relations. Few seem to think this way, but I do. Republicans hate anything or anyone they cannot control. Cuba had been and the now the countries in the Middle East now fall into that category.

Hate is a strong word. Left uncontrolled, it degenerates into violence. Humans seem to categorize living things into moral groups. This seems an outgrowth of biological natural history harking back to such basic things as the food chain; it is morally wrong to kill except of course if you happen to be a pig or a cow. In terms of religion, church building leaders have been preaching that it is morally wrong to kill a believer putting non-believers in a different moral group. The same is true of nations. It is not only OK to kill enemies but is the honorable thing to do. Some Senators want us to reduce Iranians to sniveling subservient dogs, which must do everything they say. Shock of all shocks, our president Obama sees them as humans with dignity.

Stephen Pinker, an experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author wrote a remarkable book, The Better Angels of our Nature (2011). He cites solid information indication such startling things, as tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide, murder rates have fallen from Medieval Europe thirty times, slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions, which had been features of life, are targeted more and more for abolition. Wars kill a fraction of the people they did a few decades ago; in fact, wars between developed countries have all but disappeared. Rape, battering, hates crimes, deadly riots, child abuse, as well as cruelty to animals—all substantially down.  Against this background, which indicates the entire world is learning to abhor violence, current Republican conduct is shocking; clearly, they do not want to negotiate but are willing to accept war. They claim allegiance to what they consider the most developed country in the world ignoring the fact that war between developed countries has vanished; sometimes frivolously referred to no two countries with the golden arches go to war.   

I look at Obama haters such as letter writer Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, and letter signers such as Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Marco Rubio of Florida as being people of violence, cave men. I expect Republicans to retain a little conservative tendency—try to conserve the past—but isn’t acting like a caveman a little much? 

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