Friday, January 07, 2005

Acrobat

First, The Economist on Meritocracy in America. Back when I started my blog I wrote about Meritocracy on the basis that a) equality of opportunity doesn't actually exist, b) the social contract versus individual freedoms conflict and c) whether life should be one big competition to succeed (inevitably at the expense of your fellow man). I'm still making the transition from corporate competitor to... something else.

Next, Andrew Sullivan. I love this guy. He is easily the most persuasive, balanced and principled conservative opinion journalist I've read. He supports the "War on Terror", yet has the courage and moral fibre to highlight the mistakes, the abuse, the hypocrisy at work. His most recent posts about torture of prisoners by US forces are heartening. When America descends to these levels it loses the moral legitimacy it has when fighting "terrorist" enemies. But if it acts to stop this barbarity and to punish those responsible (and to be seen to do so) then America proves exactly why it is morally superior to those animals who would saw the heads off civilian workers in front of video cameras. Glenn Reynolds quotes Eugene Volokh "it seems to me that abstract arguments about moral high grounds or stooping to the enemy's level do more to weaken the argument against torture than to strengthen it." Where to begin? Only an American right-wing commentator would ever talk about "weakening" an argument against torture. And as for "moral high ground" isn't that exactly where America has perched itself ever since 9/11?

Next, The Economist again and an article about rising hopes for peace in Africa. This after Gordon Brown stated that 2005 offered a "once-in-a-generation" chance to eradicate global poverty. Maybe the world is becoming a better place.

Last, in our European world of Anti-Americanism, just how much credit have we been giving the Americans for spearheading the humanitarian relief effort in the Indian Ocean? The truth is not a lot. Apart from matter-of-fact references to helicopters and planes delivering aid there has been no analysis of just how impotent we in Europe really are in this situation. We may be able to pledge cash, but we're unable to deliver the aid when and where it's needed. So, like jealous neighbours, we insinuate that the yanks are trying to cosy up to Muslim Indonesia instead and, worse, that they're deliberately bypassing the UN (although who takes Clare Short seriously). They did do nothing for the first four days, though.
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