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Now that Rice will be lying in State, we’ll really see the arrogance of power

So much for those who were hoping against hope that George W. Bush‘s second term might not be as destructive as the past four years.

The neocons and religious nuts have now taken over the State Department. Condoleezza Rice, keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2003 (see this Bush Beat item on George Tenet‘s mullah-like performance at that pre-war pep rally), is replacing Colin Powell. And such extremists as Stephen J. Hadley and John R. Bolton are likely to assume even more power in the Bush administration. All this really means is that Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, along with Karl Rove, have consolidated their power.

Background yourself on Bolton and Hadley with Axis of Influence, a July 2002 World Policy Institute report by Michelle Ciarrocca and William D. Hartung. (Read “Up In Arms, Or How Our Country Got To Be No. 1 With a Bullet,” my January 2004 review of Hartung’s How Much Are You Making on the War, Daddy?)

Hadley’s the type to go nuclear on the rest of the world. As for Bolton, Ciarrocca and Hartung dug up this January 2001 endorsement by Jesse Helms:

John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, if it should be my lot to be on hand for what is forecast to be the final battle between good and evil in this world.

You may get your chance, Jesse.

Now, more than ever, we need some Fulbright scholars. I don’t mean the excellent Fulbright U.S. Scholars program administered by the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars. I mean that we need to heed the words of J. William Fulbright‘s The Arrogance of Power.

In September 2002, Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service, as usual ahead of the game, pulled together some memorable quotes from the prescient 1966 book by the late Arkansas senator. This was Fulbright on the specific point of power and arrogance:

Power tends to confuse itself with virtue, and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God’s favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations—to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue and tends also to take itself for omnipotence. Once imbued with the idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means as well as the duty to do God’s work.

And here was Fulbright, nearly 40 years ago, on U.S. foreign policy:

Throughout our history two strands have coexisted uneasily: a dominant strand of democratic humanism and a lesser but durable strand of intolerant Puritanism. There has been a tendency through the years for reason and moderation to prevail as long as things are going tolerably well or as long as our problems seem clear and finite and manageable. But … when some event or leader of opinion has aroused the people to a state of high emotion, our Puritan spirit has tended to break through, leading us to look at the world through the distorting prism of a harsh and angry moralism.

Say your prayers.

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