Republicans for Humility
“Country before Party”
really depends upon how our nation
conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll
resent us.....but if we're a
humble nation they'll respect us."
- George W. Bush, October 11, 2000
Rhetoric & Reality: Origins of the Bush Doctrine - A Comparison of Professed Principles with the Reality of Policy
A Time for Moral Outrage
The Tragedy of a Complicit Media
Reconsidering Iraq: Military Leadership, Conservative, Republican Dissent
The Conservative Case Against George W. Bush
Is Bush a Conservative?
The Case for Divided Government
Military Leadership, Conservatives, Republicans Rejecting George W. Bush
Statement of Principles
Email a Friend
The Federalist Papers
Washington's Farewell Address
John Quincy Adams "Monsters to Destoy " Address - July 4, 1821>
Eisenhower's Farewell Address
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)
Congressman Murtha served 37 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring as a Colonel
"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. "
"For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead."
Confessions of a Repentant Republican
by William Frey, M. D.
“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
- George W. Bush, 5/24/05
I supported George W. Bush in the
presidential election in 2000, believing then that he best reflected my
love for America and for our tradition of liberty. I supported
the war in Afghanistan. In March of 2003, I believed that the
invasion of Iraq was justified based upon pre-war revelations presented
to Congress and to the American people. Accordingly, the
indictments contained herein apply, first and foremost, to myself.
Many Americans whom
I know and love, including many current supporters of President Bush,
remain conflicted over both his ultimate intentions in Iraq as well as
domestic curtailment of civil liberties.
Many have given the
benefit of the doubt to President Bush, and, in a misdirected spirit of
unity, have supported, as did I, Administration policies that conflict
with our essential values.
This essay explores
many of the issues that led me personally to the recognition that the
policies I was supporting in Iraq were not consistent with the
justifications made for the invasion in the spring of 2003, that
implicit in our post-invasion actions was the goal of permanent
occupation, which would
ensure endless war and the resultant degradation of our liberty, our
security, and our moral authority.
For me, recognizing
that I could no longer support the President for whom I voted, and the
occupation of a land we had invaded, remains personally painful.
I have learned that
while it is difficult to admit being wrong, such recognition is a
prerequisite for redemptive action, necessary both for individual
growth and for the healing of our nation.
It is in this
spirit that I submit these reflections.
William Frey, M. D.
“Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.”
Ulysses S. Grant
Eisenhower's presidential leadership was forged in his experience as
Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary
during WWII. Facing, in the dawn of the nuclear age, an arms race
with the Soviet Union, he cautioned,
is no way in which a country
can satisfy the craving for absolute security, but it can bankrupt
itself morally and economically in attempting to reach that illusory
goal through arms alone.”
In his farewell
address, Eisenhower was the first to describe and warn Americans of
the dangers he observed in the rapidly expanding military industrial
“The total influence – economic,
political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every statehouse,
every office of the federal government……..The potential for the
disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must
never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or
democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert
and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge
industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods
and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
judicious leadership and balanced priorities, despite a unified,
nuclear-armed, and assertive Soviet Union, averted nuclear catastrophe
and preserved civil liberties.
despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Bush regime, not
content with America’s current status as the world’s sole superpower,
a National Security Strategy which seeks American hegemony and
total dominance, entailing a military industrial complex far greater
than any of which Eisenhower warned.
Those familiar with the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), whose founders include Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld among many who went on to serve in the Bush administration, are familiar with their long advocacy of increased reliance upon the assertion of American military force, supported by an expanded worldwide network of permanent military bases.
Middle East, the PNAC policy statement published in 2000, “Rebuilding
America’s Defenses”, plainly stated the objective of an increased
military presence in the region as a reason for invading Iraq,
“While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate
justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in
the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
An Administration Astray
These goals of total military dominance,
pursued by civilian, mostly non-combat-experienced, war-hawks despite
opposition and warnings from many
of our most
experienced generals, not only conflicts with American ideals, but
is irreconcilable with administration rhetoric. Indeed,
President Bush and members of his administration have taken precautions
to dispel any notion that they have plans for a permanent military
presence in Iraq:
On April 13,
2004, President Bush said,“As
a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite
occupation and neither does America.”
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, testifying before the Senate Armed Services
Committee February 17, stated,
“We have no intention, at the present time, of putting
permanent bases in Iraq.”
ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Zadeh, said
in an interview on Iraqi television August 15, 2005, “We are not
seeking to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.”
But concrete speaks
louder than words. In March, 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported the
planned construction of 14
“enduring bases” in Iraq. By May, 2005, the Washington Post
reported that plans called for consolidating American troops into 4
large, more substantial facilities, designed to withstand direct mortar
attacks, centered around the airfields in Tallil in the south, Al Asad
in the west, Balad in the center and either Irbil or Qayyarah in the
north. These were re-designated “Contingency
Operating Bases” in February, 2005. Funding for the first
group of redesigned barracks was included in the $82 billion
supplemental war-spending bill approved by Congress in May.
Also included was funding for construction of the world’s
largest embassy, located on 104 acres with a staff of 1020 and 500
Once again, we
may find guidance
in Eisenhower’s words, which are relevant not only to our Iraq, but
within our own borders,
know that freedom cannot be served by the devices of the tyrant.
As it is an ancient truth that freedom cannot be legislated into
existence…… And any who act as if freedom's defenses are to found in
suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to
problem in defense is how far
you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend
Indeed, within America, in the name of defending our freedom, we witness the ongoing and significant erosion of fundamental civil liberties, and of the rule of law, erosions so egregious that it is indeed difficult to comprehend their reality and future implications:
gymnastics a patriotic American one must perform to reconcile support
for these positions with long honored American traditions of justice
grow greater with each subsequent encroachment.
How has it
come to this?
“No speech about homeland security or Iraq should begin without a reference to 9/11 ....
“If you describe it simply as a ‘preemptive action,’ some Americans will carry deep reservations about the rightness of the cause. Americans are conditioned to think that hitting first is usually wrong .... By far, the better word to use than ‘preemption’ is ‘PREVENTION ’ ....”
from GOP spinmeister Frank Luntz's June, 2004 talking points
pattern has developed. Misguided policy – most specifically, policy
Iraqis that we are intent upon permanent
occupation – fuels
increasing insurgency. With each set-back President
Bush has reacted by rhetorically “upping the ante”. Each
escalation of rhetoric is accompanied by increasingly strident claims
that those taking exception to his policies are “siding with the
of the issues encourages a view of reality with only two options:
siding with an infallible, virtuous, freedom-spreading America led by
George Bush, ordained by God to democratize the world, or siding with
ante,” as well as the re-defining of both patriotism and divine will so
as to be in accord with administration policy, solidifies our emotional
commitment to the premise that every act of war, every Fallujah, every
death of a son or daughter, every “liberated” Iraqi civilian who
becomes “collateral damage”, every new infringement
upon our civil liberties, is all for the greater good. By
such a process, we may find solace, avoid recognition of the actual
horrors we have come to support, and psychically deflect responsibility
for the unintended, but predictable, consequences of our actions.
When faced with facts
that do not fit this world view, a “true believer” may resolve the
cognitive dissonance by simple disbelief: When
confronted, on Hannity & Coombs, with the revelation that American
Tillman, killed while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan,
opposed what he viewed as an illegal war in Iraq, Ann Coultercould
disbelief. Hannity agreed, “I don't believe it either…..He signed
up because of a desire to fight.” Coulter then
incorrectly speculated that this must be a fabrication of the media.
The reality of a patriotic American who would give up a lucrative
sports contract to risk his life defending America in Afghanistan,
while simultaneously opposing the war in Iraq, appeared, to both Ann
Coulter and Sean Hannity, simply incomprehensible.
A “With us or
against us” dichotomy forces Americans to choose between blind support
for misguided policy, or painful but necessary patriotic dissent while
simultaneously being unjustly maligned as “siding with the enemy”.
courageous and patriotic Pat Tillman, many Americans share a more
nuanced view of the world, and are committed to proper moral action.
But rejecting a falsely polarized, overly simplified “Us or Them”
administration view may be painfully difficult for those patriotic
Americans who share a deep commitment to our values of liberty, but who
also feel a moral obligation to speak out to correct misguided policy
inconsistent with those values.
from this false framing of reality requires independent vision,
intellectual honesty, and the courage to face painful realities.
Skillful control of the framing of issues
has been a significant factor in advancing the Bush/Rove agenda.
Utilizing the skillful linguistic and psychological
cunning of Frank Luntz’s talking points, pre-digested prior to delivery
to legions of surrogates in the media, the Bush/Rove machine has
mastered the art of issue framing and spin.
But just as
the fabled unclad emperor learned, there are limits beyond which a
false version of reality cannot be sustained. There comes a point at
which the price at which believing the prevailing myths becomes too
Such is now
the case on the ground in Iraq.
Bush is undeterred by these patriotic voices of realism.
As with his
threats to veto Congressional attempts to re-instate American bans on
torture, the President rejects Congressional action to neutralize the
greatest of source of Iraqi resistance by committing to a policy
rejecting a permanent military presence in Iraq.
On a national
level, the “moral
bankruptcy” of which Eisenhower warned may be reflected in a loss
of American moral
authority. Not only may this be a factor in
worldwide loss of esteem, but it may provide passion and longevity to
the widespread resistance to our leadership.
The most tragic moral
consequences, however, accrue
to those who suppress their more noble instincts to blindly accept
ill-fitting and ever-changing rationales for policies
that conflict with our most cherished principles.
That this may be done out of a misdirected sense of
patriotism or faith is of little consolation.
Emerging from moral bankruptcy requires that we properly reframe the issues:
We must not surrender
flag and faith to those who would use both to support a war which
We must not surrender flag and faith to those who would use both to support a war which honors neither.
To those who would
attempt to silence
Americans with the call that “We must support our troops,” we must meet squarely on the
issues: The troops are our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our
wives. They volunteered to defend our nation, not
to pursue a hidden agenda of those who do not honor our nations values.
We must never abuse their courage, their patriotism, and
To those who insist we must spread liberty: Our founders
established our nation as a beacon of liberty. We
must never confuse the defense of liberty with the pursuit of an agenda
of domination that is offensive to our democratic values and
counterproductive to our security, inflaming the passions and
determination of those less powerful.
To those who exploit a climate of fear
to assert that we must now abridge fundamental liberties for the sake
of security, we must remind of the insights of wiser Americans,
that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety
deserves neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin
and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of
fighting a foreign enemy" .... "We are right to take alarm at the first
experiment upon our liberties." James
To those who claim that we who oppose the war in Iraq are "anti-American", we must confront with the truth that we who oppose the occupation come from all points on the political spectrum - Democrats, Republicans, and independents - left, right and center - and include the majority of Americans. To those who persist in challenging our patriotism, we must remind of the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "To announce that there should be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, it is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American people."
broad bipartisan support, have not only embedded our unambiguous
of torture into American law (establishing legal constraints which the
Bush administration is now determined to dismantle), but have for
generations been in the forefront of establishing such standards
worldwide through treaties including the Geneva Conventions.
previous generations of Americans - left, right, and center - have been
unified in the belief that not only is such conduct essential for the
safety of our own captured servicemen and women, but that any nation
which does not adhere to its own basic values (regardless of any
self-proclaimed virtue) would cease to possess the moral prerequisites
for genuine success.
need for "the
decent respect for the opinions of mankind" is no less compelling
than it was for our founders. But the primary need for realigning
our actions with our values is not improved public relations. The most
compelling need is, for the benefit of our own society, to reaffirm
moral constraints upon our actions, individual and collective, without
which the character of our nation will be diminished.
This will be
contentious. The unifying values implanted by America's
founders - values of liberty, non-aggression, and antipathy to
authoritarian government – have historically prevailed only despite
significant opposition from Americans with less honorable priorities. Indeed, the very
eloquence with which Jefferson, Madison, and other founders defended
civil liberties and warned repeatedly of the dangers of unrestrained
executive power and the pernicious consequences of war and empire is
primarily because their views were not universal. Their beliefs
in liberty, defended by non-aggressive, anti-imperial foreign policy,
and the right of dissent have survived to become the “common ground” of
the American civic vision only after bitter and divisive political
battles. During such times these cherished principles - now universally
claimed (even those whose oppose the substance of their beliefs claim
them rhetorically as their own) and taken for granted – have not
infrequently been severely threatened.
rhetoric of this consensus American vision of liberty and
non-aggression remains unscathed. But the substance of the
beliefs of our founders (which constitutes the basic “common
ground” of our political compact) is under assault. Certainly no
one overtly challenges our commitment to “liberty” and
“democracy”. Yet we witness proponents of “freedom” at home and
abroad advocating perpetual military occupation, rationalizing
permanent detention of American citizens without charges or
trial, and those who claim to respect the “rule of law”
remaining silent while administration lawyers concoct methods for the
president to evade American legal prohibitions of torture and promote
the legal theory that the president has the “inherent
authority” to “set aside” American law.
conscientious and patriotic Americans come to support policies
so antithetical to our values?
Most sobering is that
sentiments do not result solely, or even primarily, from the shameless
exploitation of fear. Rather, they arise as the unintended
consequence of a world view that derives it strength from a direct
appeal to and diversion of American's most honorable instincts.
Support for virtuous
goals may mutate over time into support for malignant
policy. Many, perhaps
most, who now tacitly support perpetual occupation would never have
supported such policy at the time of the invasion. Many
supporters of President Bush applauded his repeated
past assertions that any commitment of troops requires an "exit
strategy," and his rhetoric
opposing conquest, occupation, and "nation building".
Congressional Republicans cited similar convictions in opposing the war
in the Balkans.
Support for misguided war policy evolves incrementally with shifting justifications for the war. After support solidifies, the "goal posts" may be moved to align with a prior hidden agenda. Doubts as to the soundness of the policy or the propriety of its circuitous implementation are deflected by appeals to patriotism. Ultimately, anesthetized supporters may dismiss abhorrent consequences with such mantras as, “Bad things happen in war.”
casualties may paradoxically galvanize support as it becomes ever more
consequential to acknowledge error. Culpability is negated by
increasing commitment to the initial noble goals, and to the contention
that the policy befits those goals. Conflicting information
eliciting cognitive dissonance is met with increasing denial.
In this manner
good people may become
inexorably committed to malignant policy.
The noble values
upon which such a flawed paradigm is based both underscores the import
of the proper framing of the issues, and illustrates the formidable
challenges of achieving constructive change.
perversely augments this process. In a perilous world, simplistic
authoritarian measures that exploit an insatiate desire
for security become especially seductive.
policies provide ample evidence of the perverse outcomes of such an
illusory quest for security. In Iraq, the pursuit of "stabilization" by
means of perpetual occupation is bearing instead the fruit of endless
war. And in America, the upward ratcheting of the "national
security state" in illusory pursuit of "safety" can only deliver one
assured result: the preemptive abdication of our individual liberty and
open society. Countless refugees from tyranny are witness that
authoritarian suppression is no guarantee of safety.
Burke observed, “The people will only give up their liberty under some
delusion,” he presciently foretold
our current paradox: a “freedom loving” people not only
acquiescent to the surrender of their liberty, but welcoming “Big Brother” in the
pursuit of the mirage of security.
beguiling but false promises requires more than the courage to
face uncertainty. Although authoritarian solutions are
counterproductive in securing liberty, a frenzy for safety may reward
the unscrupulous politician at the polls.
an American consensus for honest, reality
based policy, one which pursues non-expansionist national defense
while protecting civil liberties, requires the integrity to refrain
from short-sightedly exploiting the twin passions of fear and hope.
But this is
the challenge we must overcome if we are to avoid endless war, and
preserve for our children a free and open society.
attainment will be difficult. The cult of empire is propped up by a ubiquitous and
machine. Megastar media surrogates saturate the airways with their
24/7 presence. They advance a creed of conquest that confuses
strength to defend the nation with the pursuit of world domination.
Their message thrives on the demonization of both foreign power and
domestic dissent. While they peddle a creed that holds in
contempt both the actual exercise of liberty and the practice of
authentic faith, these false prophets cloak their message with a veneer
of professed moral and patriotic values. And they have infected
our culture with their audacious claim that their values reflect the
values of America. The difficult challenge of properly reframing
these issues is amply illustrated by the 22% of Americans who state
that they rely on talk
radio as their primary source of news.
blind spots displayed by those who profess respect for the "rule of
law" and "moral values" regarding a presidential "inherent right" to
"set aside law" and legitimize torture are symptoms of the "moral
bankruptcy" of which Eisenhower warned.
spots reflect a void in the soul of America. Filling this vacuum
requires rejecting false idols, repairing a flawed paradigm, and
restoring a consensus based upon authentic American values. No
simple formula will address all issues. But the "common ground"
to be found in the still revolutionary vision of America's
founders - a vision embracing individual
liberty, opposing wars of conquest,
protecting the rights of dissent,
limiting presidential powers,
and maintaining the moral high
ground with unambiguous rejection of any legitimate role for
torture - maintains it power by virtue of its moral authority.
This compelling vision provides unifying objectives to America's
growing antiwar majority.
supporting current policies will continue to use all the resources of
their propaganda machine to attempt to perpetuate their distorted view
of the role of power, of empire, and of America's role in the
world. And they will continue to appropriate the rhetoric of “freedom” to
promote policies which repudiate the substance of the American vision
permit a war begun for the purpose of disarming a tyrant to be
used to justify the permanent unwanted occupation of a foreign land.
We must never
enable the rhetoric of patriotism and faith to support a policy of
domination pursued through deception.
rhetoric of fear to blind us to the dismantling
of the legal framework for our freedoms.
We can no
longer tolerate business-as-usual politicians in either party who will
not act to reassert historic constitutional restraints on executive
power, end a misguided war, and repel the perilous assault
action requires that we first overcome our own denial.
absolve ourselves from responsibility by pointing to our cowardly media.
intellectual mentor to America's founders, stated in his Essay on Human
Understanding in 1689 “It is vain to find fault with the arts of
deceiving, wherein men find pleasure to be deceived.”
Overcoming this human
frailty remains a formidable
The False Comfort of Self-Deception
reasons it may be problematic to move beyond the illusory comforts of
denial to experience the uncertainties of reality.
adherence to the false conceits of those whose quest is world
domination can lead only to continued erosion of our moral authority,
our esteem and influence abroad, and damage to our freedoms and
democracy at home.
eloquent prose of the King James translation, the Author of Proverbs
tells us, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before
The solace to
be found in self-deception is impermanent.
A true solace,
one more substantial than that afforded by the denial of reality, may
be more profitably sought in
Jefferson told us, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people
of good conscience to remain silent.”
Patriotic Americans can no
longer afford the hollow comforts of
blind self-deception, nor the transient respite of continued silence.
"The New American Militarism"
How Americans Are Seduced by War
by Andrew Bacevich,
Prof. of International Relations, Boston University
Graduate of the United States Military Academy
Retired Colonel, U. S. Army
"Why This Soldier Can't Support This War"
1999 Graduate of United States Military Academy,
"The Logic of Suicide Terrorism"
"The American Conservative"
University of Chicago,
former instructor in air power strategy at the USAF's School of Advanced Air Power Studies
"The central motive for anti-American terrorism, suicide terrorism, and catastrophic terrorism is response to foreign occupation, the presence of our troops. The longer our forces stay on the ground in the Arabian Peninsula, the greater the risk of the next 9/11, whether that is a suicide attack, a nuclear attack, or a biological attack."
"The Logic of Suicide Terrorism"
"America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order"
Senior Fellow, Cambridge University's Center of International Studies; Served in Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations; Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State; National Policy Director of George H. W. Bush's 1980 presidential campaign; Director of Policy Coordination for Reagan-Bush 1980; Senior foreign policy advisor to Republican National Committee, author of
"What Would Reagan Do?"
She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.
She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.
The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force....
She might become the
dictatress of the world. She would be
no longer the ruler of her own spirit...."
& Reality: The Bush Natl
Security Strategy & the War in Iraq
Republican & Military Dissent
Conservative Case Against George W. Bush
||The Case for Divided Government
||Is Bush a Conservative?|
|A Time for Moral Outrage
||Statement of Principles||Email a Friend||Contact Us|