Blame America First Liberals - Taking Responsibility

By image -August 3, 2003

There is growing rhetoric coming from conservative pundits such as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and author Ann Coulter about "blame America first liberals".

Here Tom DeLay states:

"Howard Dean says the president intentionally misled the American people.

John Kerry hinted Operation Iraqi Freedom was about oil.

Dick Gephardt the other day said we were less safe and less secure than we were four years ago… when Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein ran free.

Blame-America-first liberals all over the country are repeating this nonsense.

But make no mistake: this isn't just campaign rhetoric we're talking about."

Let's cut right to the subject of blame.  I find it interesting that the Republican Party has made "personal responsibility" one of the cornerstones of their political platform, yet they repeatedly refuse to accept any responsibility.

Blame is defined in the dictionary as "to hold responsible".

In that context what we can see is that blaming America first really means taking responsibility for American actions first and foremost.  It means being responsible.

Being responsible means accepting blame, period.  If America is to be a responsible nation then the very first thing we should do as Americans is determine our own responsibility in a situation and accept blame for our responsibilities first and foremost before moving on down the chain to assign blame to others.

Who is more respected, someone who accepts responsibility or someone who does not?  I suppose that it escapes the likes of Mr. DeLay and Ms. Coulter that perhaps the reason why America is losing respect in the international community is precisely because of American refusal to accept blame where blame is due.

The very fist step in assessing any problem should be to determine American responsibility for the problem and then accept the blame for that responsibility.  The next step is then to start pointing fingers at others after we have accepted our own blame.

Am I a "blame America first liberal"?  In a sense yes, and I am because of precisely the same ideals that the Republicans claim to tout, personal responsibility.  I'm not here to try and shirk blame I'm here to accept it where it is due.

In any situation blame is supposed to start at the top and then, as they say, it rolls down hill.  If something goes wrong at a construction site who is the first person to accept the blame?  Its the foreman.  If something goes wrong during a military maneuver who is the first to take the blame?  Its the highest-ranking officer, who is in charge.

Out of a child and a parent who is the one that is the most responsible?  It's the parent, and its the parent that takes the blame for the actions of their child in public.

Why then do these Republicans keep trying to say that the situation is different in politics?

America is the most powerful country in the world, period.  That also means that we are the country most responsible for the condition of the world today, period.  Being the most powerful country in the world means that we are the country that is to  take the blame first (that is if we are self respecting and want the respect of others).

Let's take a look at Mr. DeLay's assertions though, that we are more safe now then when Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were free. First of all Osama Bin Laden is still running free, and secondly Saddam Hussein has been proven not to have been involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or any other attacks on the United States, ever. In addition, we are currently being warned that Al-Queda is possibly preparing for another terrorist attack on the United States. So, are we any more safe than we were 4 years ago? I imagine that we are, but that its mostly due to domestic security measures, not the fact that we waged war on Afghanistan and Iraq, both countries that were not involved in the terrorist attacks on America, unlike Saudi Arabia and Egypt who were heavily involved, but have gone, as of yet, unpunished.

When something is not right in the world the very first thing that we as Americans should be doing is taking an honest look at the situation and saying, "Have we in any way contributed to this problem? If so how, and what can we do to fix it?"

Don't you agree?  Isn't that the "responsible" thing to do?  Isn't that what you would do in your personal life?

 Let's look at the facts that relate to American involvement in the situation in the Middle East.

  1. In 1953 America supported the overthrow of the Iranian government and the installation of the Shah of Iran as a dictator. The Shah's rule in Iran was brutal and corrupt and America supported his regime and in fact relied on his regime up until the day that he was overthrown by Ayatollah Khomeini. The reason that he was overthrown was because his regime was corrupt and tyrannical and the people of Iran knew that he had American support.
  1. The CIA assisted the overthrow of Karim Kassem by the Ba'ath Party in 1963 because Kassem was a communist sympathizer and the Ba'ath Party was anti-communist.
  1. The CIA worked with the Ba'ath Party early on to support their anti-communist efforts in Iraq, which included "elimination" of communist political opponents to the Ba'ath Party.
  1. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter, at the urging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that: "An attempt by an outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."  This publicly established an American doctrine stating that the Persian Gulf is a vital interest to America, in which we aim to maintain a controlling influence.
  1. During the 1980s a close relationship between Saddam Hussein and America formed after the fall of the Shah in Iran. Strong business ties were formed and American arms companies sold weapons to Iraq and encouraged Saddam to go to war with Iran. American Republican leaders were the primary ones involved in all of this, including Senator Bob Dole, Senator Alan Simpson, and President Ronald Reagan. Current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was also involved in building relations with Iraq at this time.
  1. America is who supplied Iraq with chemical and biological weapons materials in the 1980s and instructed Iraqis on how to make these weapons.
  1. On July 25th, 1990 American Ambassador to Iraq told Saddam Hussein "We have no opinion on your Arab - Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960's, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America."  Four days later Saddam invaded Kuwait.
  1. After driving Iraq's forces out of Kuwait America called on the Iraqi people to rise up with American assistance to overthrow Saddam's regime. As soon as the Kurds and Shias rebelled against Saddam American support was withdrawn, which allowed Saddam's forces to retaliate against the rebellions that we incited, killing thousands, while missing an opportunity to overthrow his regime with Iraqi assistance while Iraq's infrastructure was still in place.
  1. After entering office President Bush Jr. made a $43 million dollar deal with the Taliban in support of their regime.
  1. America has long maintained close diplomatic and business ties with Saudi Arabia, despite knowledge that the Saudi government is responsible for human rights violations, the Saudi government is a dictatorship, Saudis are and have been funding terrorist organizations, Al-Queda is partially funded by Saudis, the majority of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi Arabian.

Now, it looks to me like there is a lot there for us to reflect on as Americans, and for our leaders to accept blame for among the international community, especially considering that many of the people who were involved in these events are currently holding positions in the Bush administration, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

What is the responsible thing to do here? In my opinion the responsible thing to do would have been to stand up and say to the world, "We know that some of the things that America has done in the past may have contributed to the current problems in the Middle East and Iraq. These are areas where we feel that we, as Americans, may have contributed to this problem: A, B, C, etc. What we need now are solutions, and we are here to ask for your help, the international community, in solving the political and economic problems in the Middle East relating to Afghanistan and Iraq and the reign as a whole."

Then the administration should have been open and honest in discussing the historical role of America in the Middle East and Iraq. That's easy to do if you don't have anything to hide or to be ashamed of right? So if you believe that America has nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of then why are so many American leaders, primarily Republicans, trying so hard to avoid questions about America's involvement in the Middle East and to avoid "blame"?

If America has nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of then what problem could there possibly be in blaming America first? If we are in fact a responsible country then we will be the first to take the blame on issues. Being responsible means being the first to take the blame.

If the Republicans want to tout responsibility as a foundation of their platform then it's high time they start actually taking some responsibly and accepting the blame where blame is due, because that is precisely what many of us in America, of all political affiliations, believe: that being responsible means taking the blame.

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