Monday, March 3, 2008

Conservative Democracies Can Go to War With Whoever the Hell They Want

President Bush tried to convince the world that "democracies do not attack each other," but the data doesn't support his assertions. Democratic Israel invaded democratic Lebanon during the summer of 2006. More recently, Democratic Turkey sent troops into Iraq, the Middle East's newest democracy. And in our own hemisphere, Columbia made an incursion into Ecuador. Columbia's democratic neighbors, Venezuela and Ecuador took extreme offense to this violation of territorial sovereignty. The media play on this last exchange and its aftermath has been most telling.

According to the CIA Factbook Columbia, Ecuador and Venezuela are all federal republics like the United States. Each has a constitution and three branches of government. One would not know this from most media comments. President Uribe is presented as a reliable U.S. ally while Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa are called populists or leftists.

Who else has being called a populist in America's presidential primaries? Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been labelled with that moniker. Mrs. Clinton wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts on people making over $250,000 a year. That moves the marginal tax rate from 35% back to 39.6%. She wants to preserve the estate tax for estates valued at more than $7 million.

Asking people who have resources to pay for the privilege of living in America is part of our rich history. During the 20th century's major wars, the highest marginal tax rate varied between 70 and 90%. Yet, in our current war on terror tax rates are between 1/2 and 1/3 historical levels. We have a worn out military, aging infrastructure, and nearly one sixth of our citizens without health insurance. The war is financed by "off budget" appropriations estimated to reach $2-3 trillion dollars.

Meanwhile, "conservatives" call for more tax cuts for individuals and businesses, while those advocating seemingly reasonable proposals are labelled populists. Conservative democracies can attack whoever they want, whenever. The end justifies the means. But should a liberal democracy defend its territorial integrity, that will not be tolerated! Welcome to the rabbit hole...