Saturday, March 20, 2010

INCORRIGIBLE Let’s Look at the USA and the World

INCORRIGIBLE: Let’s Look at the USA and the World

By Kevin Stoda, Wiesbaden, Germany

I have received an email from MAS [Muslim American Society], which says in a recent email to me: “A statement issued by Muslim Cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki calls for the categorical opposition by Muslims in America to the government of the United States. This is a sentiment expressed by Muslims who consider America to be the incorrigible ‘enemy of Islam’ and a nation at war with all Muslims in the world.”

In contrast, it is [appropriately] claimed by MAS that “the Muslim American Society, and other American Muslim organizations, reject the premise that America is essentially evil, and that our society is committed to the destruction of either Islam or majority-Muslim nations. Indeed, Muslims are an inseparable part of American social history and the fabric of American society. Both our presence in the United States and our aspirations to build a better, more peaceful, and more democratic and morally upright society, are an integral part of what is both right and hopeful for this nation, and our world.”

The article was intended as MAS’s rebuttal to Anwar Al-Awkli’s statement that the USA is an “incorrigible ‘enemy of Islam’” and at war with people who are Muslims. I agree with the tone of the article in this rebuttal but I was encouraged by it to ponder the word: “incorrigible”.


I have made a quick review of dictionary definitions of the word “incorrigible”. There are basically four types of adjectival usage for “incorrigible”.

1. not corrigible; bad beyond correction or reform: incorrigible behavior; incorrigible liar.

2. impervious to constraints or punishment; willful; unruly; uncontrollable: an incorrigible child; incorrigible hair.

3. firmly fixed; not easily changed: an incorrigible habit.

4. not easily swayed or influenced: an incorrigible optimist.

If we look at the first definition, which states basically that “incorrigible” means

1- bad beyond correction or reform.

I would normally like to say that I agree with MAS that this first definition of “incorrigible” seems not to apply to the USA as either (a) nation state, (b) government, (c) its policies, nor (d) the American people as a whole.

However, as a foreign policy expert who has lived in four countries on three continents since the George W. Bush Administration came into power and (took over and) changed America’s image for the entire greater global community (less than a decade ago), I believe that the second and third definitions [above] of the word “incorrigible” do often apply to the USA as “(a) nation state, (b) government, and (c) its policies”

2-impervious to constraints or punishment; willful; unruly; uncontrollable: an incorrigible child

3-firmly fixed; not easily changed: an incorrigible habit.

I think the fact that the USA refuses to have good health care access as a universal right is an incorrigibly bad habit or signifies that its leadership behaves like incorrigible children.

In turn, despite the cynical world views of Bush and Cheney, the fourth definition may still fit many American people today.

4-not easily swayed or influenced: an incorrigible optimist.

As, I speak with students from dozens of countries, they still laud America’s incorrigible optimism about the further—even as it puts its head in the sand about what the real global and national needs are concerning global warming.

Then, this past week, as I was listening to the linguist, Noam Chomsky on Democracy Now speak about Barack Obama’s policy on the Guantanamo and Bagram inmates, I began to rethink my thoughts about whether America or American governance was as incorrigible as its critiques have stated, i.e. bad beyond correction or reform.

As I listened to Noam Chomsky giving his interview, he emphasized that the we, as Americans, need to “get the United States to join the world.” This has been a topic of mine with bankers and financiers in Europe in recent months, too. These experts in banking, accounting, finance, etc. threw up their hands at incorrigible American behavior in not following global banking and financial norms and rules, like those of the Basel Accords, which the European and other world states follow more faithfully.

In short, regardless of the political, legal, or policy position, America is seen as a loner, a bully, and incorrigible by the world community. Chomsky made this perfectly clear in evaluating Obama’s current Israel policy. (Yes, Israel is seen as incorrigible, too, but as a partner of the USA.) In this, Chomsky, cited speeches by Obama given in Egypt and elsewhere last year.


Chomsky said, “With regard to his [Obama’s] repetition of the call to stop expansion of settlements, he did go a little bit farther—not he, but his spokespersons in press conferences. They were asked, is the administration going to do anything about it if Israel rejects it? And they said, ‘No, it’s purely symbolic.’ In fact, explicitly said that the administration is not going to do what George Bush the 1st [administration] did. George Bush the 1st [administration] had some light taps on the wrist if Israel continued to reject what the US was asking for. Clinton pretty much withdrew that, and Obama withdrew it totally. He said, ‘No, this is just symbolic.’ Well, that’s telling Benjamin Netanyahu, ‘Go ahead and do what you like. We’ll say we don’t like it, but there will be a wink saying, yeah, go ahead. Meanwhile, we participate in it. You know, we send you the arms. We give you the diplomatic support and a direct participation.’ That’s the vision. You know? It could hardly be clearer.”

Chomsky continued, “Now, what can we do about it [this incorrigible White House behavior]? Well, you know, we can get the United States to join the world. In this case it’s literally the whole world. Just accept—join the world and accept the international consensus and stop the direct participation in violating it. . .”

The sort of “incorrigible” definition [#1 above] that I had rejected above as describing the USA [i.e. bad beyond correction or reform] may, in fact, fit in some cases, especially in the Middle East, where most Muslims live.

Chomsky had also given another important example earlier, and it reflects negatively on the current president of the USA, Obama. This became evident when Chomsky noted that near the end of the Second George W. Bush Administration (i.e. after Donald Rumsfeld and company were ousted), the USA president had clearly come to accept the USA Supreme Court’s expanding jurisdiction over USA behavior and misbehavior as concerns the rights of Guantanamo internees.

Chomsky clarified and explained, “Well, the Supreme Court finally, after a long time, kind of whittled away at that [first Bush administration claims that USA laws and constitutional rights did not apply with Guantanamo inmates, et. al ] and said, yes, they have the right of habeas corpus. The Bush administration accepted that; Obama doesn’t. Obama—the Obama administration is trying to overturn a decision by a right-wing Bush judicial appointee that the Supreme Court decision holds for Bagram, the torture center in Afghanistan. And the Obama administration is trying to override that, so that that means that the Supreme Court decision is just a joke. If you want to torture somebody, don’t send them to Guantánamo, because the Supreme Court said you can’t torture them there; let’s send them to Bagram. So if you pick somebody up in Yemen or, you know, wherever you pick him up, and you want them not to be subject to international law, also US law, OK, send him to Bagram. That’s the Obama administration position.”

I agree.

It does appear that as far as prisoner-rights go, the Obama Administration has continued many of the early George W. Bush administrations mistreatments and his administrations outright ignoring of U.S. and UN regulations on treatment of prisoners and rights to courtrooms.

I would, therefore, have to say that the first definition for “incorrigibility” [i.e. bad beyond correction or reform] above applies clearly to the U.S. Presidency over the last 9 to 10 year. The USA Executive Branch has thus shown itself to in fact be “not corrigible” or “bad beyond correction or reform”: i.e. showing incorrigible behavior” ; and acting as an “incorrigible liar” to the USA Supreme Court, the people of the USA, and the people of the world.


No wonder some Muslims think the USA is incorrigible in the 21st Century! Most of the people or victims most badly affected by the U.S. President’s anti-Supreme Court behavior regarding inmate rights have, often affected Muslims. Moreover, most Palestinians who are adversely affected by Obama’s winking at Israeli crimes are also Muslim.

Finally, Chomsky had also clarified his points by pointing at similar incorrigible behavior and bad trends in the case of the USA’s policy on Iran, which the US Legislative and Executive branches are promoting. Such behavior appears to be consistently adverse to most American peoples interests and their beliefs—as well as contrary to the interests and beliefs of the majority of people on the planet Earth.

Chomsky noted that this example of White House’ and Capital Hill ‘s incorrigibility and isolation of Iran appears to be incorrigible behavior, too. Both Congress and President have made consistent efforts over the past decade to isolate Iran in response to the uranium enrichment practices under the Tehran leadership.

Recently, however, the President of Brazil Lula rejected calls by Washington to play along with its calls for a trade boycott of Iran. Chomsky noted, “Well, in this case, Lula’s position happens to be that of most of the world. You can think it’s right or wrong or whatever, but just as a matter of fact, for example, it’s the position of the former non-aligned countries, the majority of countries of the world and the large majority of their populations. They have repeatedly and vigorously supported Iran’s right to enriched uranium for peaceful purposes, reiterating that it’s a signer of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which does grant that right. So they’re not part of the world.”

With such a skewed global perspective by the federal Executive and Legislative branches of the USA, I begin to think my homeland (the USA) is incorrigible in many of its policies. Chomsky expanded my definition of the USA a bit with further comments on American attitude towards USA foreign policy on Iran. Chomsky noted, “Another group that’s not part of the world is the population of the United States. The last polls that I’ve seen, a couple of years ago, in those polls a considerable majority of Americans agreed that Iran has a right to develop nuclear energy, but of course not nuclear weapons. And in fact, as the poll demonstrated, the opinions of Americans on this issue were almost identical with opinions of Iranians on a whole range of issues. And, in fact, when the poll was presented in Washington at a press conference, the presenter pointed out that if people were able to make policy, could be that these tensions and conflicts would be resolved.”

Hence, at this point in the 21st Century, not only does the world find many USA practices and behaviors to be totally incorrigible--but Americans, too, think the Executive and Legislative branches foreign polices are incorrigible.

In that case, why all this fuss about one Muslim cleric calling America incorrigible?



Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

I'm writing to ask you to oppose the plan currently being negotiated by Senator Graham with the White House to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay at the expense of the US Constitution and our system of justice.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal story "Deal Near on Gitmo, Trials for Detainees" on March 19, 2010, Senator Graham is willing to support the closure of Gitmo and the purchase of the prison facility in Thompson Illinois if President Obama agrees to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other top terror suspects in a military commission and leave 48 detainees detained indefinitely without being charged with a crime. Not only are military commissions inferior to criminal trials in convicting terrorists, this deal undermines core American values like the right to a fair trial that the founding fathers enshrined in the Constitution and our men and women in uniform risk their lives to protect.

Closing Guantanamo is not about a piece of real estate. It's a symbol of the gross human rights abuses of the Bush/Cheney Administration. Closing it in exchange for violating our system of justice and rule of law is not progress. Its a betrayal of core American values. I urge you to publicly oppose this plan.

10:34 AM  

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