Thugs we can call our own
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 5, 2006, 00:27

Nothing evidences our monolithic approach to international politics better than our response to a little foreign criticism coming from any quarter.  Such criticism may come from nations that we usually identify with, and which have always been considered allies; or from nations that resent our meddling in their internal affairs and confront our behavior.  It doesn�t matter.  We trash them all . . . messengers as well as messages.  How dare anyone challenge us!

We have seen french fries become �freedom fries� -- courtesy of one very �patriotic,� and very crooked, politician, Rep. Robert Ney of Ohio -- and democratically-elected leaders of nations, who dare challenge our imperialistic ways, become thugs -- last such labeling coming from Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, a �supposedly� liberal leader in the Democratic Party, as she referred to Venezuela�s Hugo Chavez. Ours is an equal opportunity thrashing from either side of our political coin, which unfortunately is the only currency we�ve got!

Why are our politicians, of either party, so quick on the draw to insult just about anyone?  Anyone outside our borders, that is!  Because it�s safe, and it garners votes . . . which for them is the end game.  If everything else fails, there is always that �rally around the flag� that will save the day.  American exceptionalism, the high-grade pot we all appear to be smoking, will always come to the rescue of the scoundrel politicians that infest our ailing nation.  Honesty and truth be damned!

Heck, we give them all a democratic treatment regardless where they are from.  Banana republics, or nations with low-yield nuclear weapons and deficient delivery systems; we hold no bias towards one or the other.  All we ask of these leaders is be responsive to our whims and, unequivocally, follow our directions.  Why make things difficult for themselves, and their nations?  See how placid things turned out for Pervez Musharraf, and Pakistan, after he followed �counsel he couldn�t refuse� from Richard Armitage?  Musharraf will soon be collecting royalties from his memoirs, �In the Line of Fire,� and Pakistan doesn�t need to worry about finding its way out of the Stone Age. Look at the bright side of capitulation: you get to keep your life . . . and the roof over your head.  This Pakistani head of state prevented a lot of pain and suffering for the people of Pakistan.

As repugnant as this behavior in American foreign policy might seem to some, it�s a fact of life that it�s carried with the consent of the American citizenry; indirectly, or by default, but with little indication of concern by the governed. For all the touting of our democracy, where the political centerpiece rests on �checks and balances� between the three branches of government, we find nothing wrong with having the Supreme Court select our president, or have Congress de-facto tender its powers to the president.  Autocracy by default, it would seem, rather than democracy . . . thus, our foreign policy.

But, getting back to the subject of thugs and how quick we are to classify as ruffians, hoodlums and gangsters anyone unwilling to bow to us. Let�s get real.  Thugs, just like many other derogatory terms, including terrorists, are more indicative of our emotional state than the rational classification of those people by the what and why of their actions.  It�s the �N� word in international affairs, often wrong and never appropriate.

However, there are thugs and there are Thugs . . . yes, thugs with a capital T.  The latter were assassins operating in time past in northern India, who paid homage to Kali, goddess of death and destruction -- depicted as black, red-eyed, blood-stained and wearing a necklace of skulls � and offered their victims to her.  The first group is the result of our insulting emotions . . . the second group, the creators of hell on earth.  No longer operating in India, Thugs have found their way, their rebirth, among those who hold the reins of world power.  It�s these Newborn Thugs that the world needs to worry about . . . and most of them, unfortunately, carry US passports:  Armitage, Bolton, Cheney, Rumsfeld . . . the list of Thugs goes on and on.  Most, however, would rather be called �men of war� since they couldn�t be taken seriously as �defenders of democracy and freedom.� Men and women of war . . . true Thugs!

It is sad that we show our displeasure of those who confront us by calling them thugs, while we seem to show our respect and appreciation for our own Thugs.

� 2006 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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