Læsetid: 5 min.

I USA bestemmer folket

Abortmodstand, våbenglæde og national stolthed. Set fra Europa ligner det konservative USA i bedste fald kitsch, i værste fald fascisme. Det siger den konservative kommentator David Frum, som dog mener, at vi egentlig ikke er så forskellige
Abortmodstand, våbenglæde og national stolthed. Set fra Europa ligner det konservative USA i bedste fald kitsch, i værste fald fascisme. Det siger den konservative kommentator David Frum, som dog mener, at vi egentlig ikke er så forskellige
17. september 2008

Tv-værten på det satiriske The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, elsker at joke med Republikanernes selvforståelse. ”Der er ingen tvivl om, at Republikanerne elsker USA, ” sagde han forleden. ”De hader bare halvdelen af de mennesker, der bor her.”

Jon Stewart rammer suverænt den opfattelse, som mange frisindede amerikanere har af deres mere traditionelt tænkende landsmænd. De er underligt ekstreme, snævertsynede mennesker, som føler mere for ufødte børn og skydevåben, end de gør for fattige og anderledestænkende.

Men hvad mener Republikanerne om sig selv og deres land? Den konservative kommentar David Frum advarer mod at tro, at Amerika er anderledes, fordi amerikanerne er anderledes. Han mener, at europæisk og amerikansk politik er grundlæggende umulige at sammenligne.

”Den største hindring for europæeres forståelse af amerikansk politik er størrelsen. Amerika er et kontinent. USA er så meget større end et hvilket som helst europæisk land, at det bør sammenlignes med Europa som helhed. Hvis I var ét land, ville der også være enormt store kulturelle forskelle, og den fælles præsident ville være en meget symbolsk figur, ligesom han er det i USA”, siger Frum i et interview med Information.dk.

Man skal huske på, at det er hele USA, der vælger præsidenten, understreger Frum. Han eller hun skal derfor tale til alle mulige slags mennesker. Det gælder også for Det Republikanske Parti.

”Tænk på Republikanernes partikonvent. Der er bankmænd fra Connecticut, landmænd fra Texas, våbensamlere fra Los Angeles. Disse mennesker har vidt forskellige opfattelser af, hvad det essentielle i konservatismen er. Det republikanske parti må nødvendigvis være en meget bred koalition af holdninger.”

Det nationale fællesskab

Ifølge Frum er der tre synspunkter, der definerer den fælles identitet blandt konservative amerikanere. De støtter en økonomisk liberal politik. De mener nationalstaten skal være hævet over internationale institutioner. Og så er de værdipolitisk mere traditionelt orienterede end venstreorienterede amerikanere. De lægger vægt på historie, tradition og religion.

Frum bliver et øjeblik ved det sidste punkt, værdipolitikken. Det drejer sig ikke kun om familieværdier, understreger han.

”Når man ser på holdninger som abortmodstand og forsvar for retten til at eje våben er der umiddelbart intet, der forbinder dem. I Europa spørger man sig selv, hvorfor disse ting er så vigtige for mange amerikanere. Svaret er, at der i virkeligheden er en sammenhæng mellem abort og våben. Og det er en traditionel opfattelse af, hvad nationalt fællesskab i USA vil sige.”

Det er netop denne traditionelle fællesskabsforståelse, som Republikanernes vicepræsidentkandidat Sarah Palin rammer så effektivt ned i, forklarer Frum.

”Denne kvinde, som stort set ingen kendte for fire uger siden, har begejstret så mange konservative, fordi hun står disse traditionelle værdier. Folk føler, at hun repræsenterer dem.”

Folket bestemmer

At værdipolitiske spørgsmål fylder så meget i det amerikanske præsidentvalg, bunder ifølge den konservative kommentator i en institutionel forskel mellem Amerika og de europæiske lande. Det amerikanske partier er relativt svagere end de europæiske. De kan f.eks. ikke tvinge senatorer til at indordne sig efter partidisciplinen, fordi de 100 senatorer vælges lokalt i hver stat og ikke indstilles af partierne.

For at opnå popularitet i de stater, hvor de stiller op, lytter senatorerne mere til synspunkter blandt statens vælgere end til partilinjen. Senatet repræsenterer simpelthen vælgerne bedre end europæiske parlamentarikere gør, lyder Frums påstand.

”Jeg har været meget i Frankrig, og i hver eneste landsby har de en våbenforhandler. Franskmændene elsker våben ligeså meget som amerikanerne. Hvis man gav dem lov, ville de købe ligeså mange våben. Men det gør man ikke, fordi eliten bestemmer.”

Den canadisk-fødte Frum kommer med et andet eksempel på, hvordan det amerikanske system repræsenterer befolkningens holdninger.

”I 1970’erne besluttede politikerne i USA og Canada sig for, at det var på tide at bruge meter i stedet for miles som mål for afstande. Folk hadede forslaget. I Canada gennemførte parlamentet det. I USA blev forslaget støttet af præsident Jimmy Carter, der anbefalede Kongressen at stemme for. Repræsentanternes Hus adlød, men et flertal i Senatet stemte nej, fordi de vidste, at vælgerne i deres stater ville straffe dem, hvis de stemte for.”

Efter Bush

I sin debatbog fra i år Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again forsøger Frum at tegne konturerne for et projekt for det republikanske parti efter George W. Bush. Præsidentens tidligere taleskriver støttede ivrigt Bush i de første år af hans embedsperiode. Undervejs er han blevet skuffet dybt over præsidentens mange kompromiser og generelle sjusk.

Bushs otte år som præsident har undermineret amerikanernes tillid til republikansk regeringsførelse, mener Frum. I sin bog gør han derfor meget ud af, at Republikanerne må kere sig om hele USA. Nationalfølelse og tjenestevillighed er de to nøgleord for Frum.

”Det nuværende præsidentvalg er nærmest en dramatisering af temaerne i Comeback. Personligt støttede jeg Rudy Giuliani, men jeg må sige, at partiets valg af præsidentkandidat har vist sig at være det rigtige. John McCain er den eneste republikanske kandidat, der vil have bare en chance for at vinde dette valg.”

Præsident Bush spildte en gylden chance for at aktivere Amerika i kølvandet på 11. september, skriver Frum i Comeback. At styrke det nationale fællesskab er derfor hovedopgaven for den kommende præsident.

”McCain inkarnerer de amerikanske værdier, jeg beskriver i min bog. Nationalfølelse og tjenestevillighed. På Demokraternes side har man den helt modsatte situation. Barack Obama er sårbar på grund af sin identitet. Er han en rigtig amerikaner?, spørger mange sig selv.”

Forsvar nationen

Frum mener, nationalfølelse er den overordnede idé, som Republikanerne skal forsvare i fremtiden. På grund af globaliseringen er nationen under angreb både fra oven og fra neden.

”Internationale institutioner som FN og EU-kommissionen er i deres natur udemokratiske, fordi de ikke får legitimitet fra en vælgerskare. Demokrati er nationalt demokrati. Indadtil er stigende kulturel diversitet et problem for det nationale fællesskab. Samtidig er jeg meget bevidst om klimaproblemerne, som kræver globale løsninger.”

At opretholde og forsvare nationalstaten i det 21. århundrede på en realistisk måde er ifølge Frum Republikanernes store udfordring.

”Det, vi oplever nu, er på mange måder det samme, som Europa oplevede i anden halvdel af det 20. århundrede. Hvordan reagerer man på globaliseringen uden at forfalde til nationalisme? Det er meget vigtigt, at Det Republikanske Parti ikke lukker verden ude. Vi skal være åbne for internationale investeringer og internationalt samarbejde, men samtidig værne om den amerikanske identitet.”


Blå bog

David Frum er konservativ kommentator og forfatter tilknyttet tænketanken The American Enterprise Institute i Washington D.C. Han er tidligere taleskriver for præsident George W. Bush og står blandt andet bag den berømte tale til nationen fra 2002, hvor begrebet "Ondskabens akse" blev introduceret.

Comeback: Conservatism that Can Win again
Random House, 2008

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Kommentarer

Selvom jeg må indrømme, at sammenlignet med anmeldelsen af Bachevichs Limits of Power, (som iøvrigt osse anses for konservativ) så lyder det her som det rene skindbarlige vås.

Vilhelm von Håndbold

Frum er en vulgær propagandist - og det kræver ikke et geni at afsløre.

Recently, when Vice-President Cheney was asked by ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz about polls showing that an overwhelming majority of US citizens oppose the war in Iraq, he replied, "So?"
"So -- you don't care what the American people think?" Raddatz asked.

"No," Cheney replied, and explained, "I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in public opinion polls."

Later, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, explaining Cheney's comments, was asked whether the public should have "input."

Her reply: "You had your input. The American people have input every four years, and that's the way our system is set up."

That's correct. Every four years the American people can choose between candidates whose views they reject, and then they should shut up.

Evidently failing to understand democratic theory, the public strongly disagrees.

"Eighty-one per cent say when making 'an important decision' government leaders 'should pay attention to public opinion polls because this will help them get a sense of the public's views,"' reports the Program on International Policy Attitudes, in Washington.

And when asked "whether they think that 'elections are the only time when the views of the people should have influence, or that also between elections leaders should consider the views of the people as they make decisions,' an extraordinary 94 per cent say that government leaders should pay attention to the views of the public between elections."

The same polls reveal that the public has few illusions about how their wishes are heeded: 80 per cent "say that this country is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves," not "for the benefit of all the people."

With its unbounded disregard for public opinion, the Bush administration has been far to the radical nationalist and adventurist extreme of the policy spectrum, and was subjected to unprecedented mainstream criticism for that reason.

A Democratic candidate is likely to shift more towards the centrist norm. However, the spectrum is narrow. Looking at the records and statements of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, it is hard to see much reason to expect significant changes in policy in the Middle East.

IRAQ

IT IS Important to bear in mind that neither Democratic candidate has expressed a principled objection to the invasion of Iraq. By that I mean the kind of objection that was universally expressed when the Russians invaded Afghanistan or when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait: condemnation on the grounds that aggression is a crime -- in fact the "supreme international crime," as the Nuremberg Tribunal determined. No one criticised those invasions merely as a "strategic blunder" or as involvement in "another country's civil war, a war (they) can't win" (Obama, Clinton, respectively, on the Iraq invasion).

The criticism of the Iraq war is on grounds of cost and failure; what are called "pragmatic reasons," a stance that is considered hardheaded, serious, moderate -- in the case of Western crimes.

The intentions of the Bush administration, and presumably McCain, were outlined in a Declaration of Principles released by the White House in November 2007, an agreement between Bush and the U.S.-backed Nuri al-Maliki government of Iraq.

The Declaration allows U.S. forces to remain indefinitely to "deter foreign aggression" (though the only threat of aggression in the region is posed by the United States and Israel, presumably not the intention) and for internal security, though not, of course, internal security for a government that would reject US. domination. The Declaration also commits Iraq to facilitate and encourage "the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments" -- an unusually brazen expression of imperial will.

In brief, Iraq is to remain a client state, agreeing to allow permanent US military installations (called "enduring" in the preferred Orwellism) and ensuring US investors priority in accessing its huge oil resources -- a reasonably clear statement of goals of the invasion that were evident to anyone not blinded by official doctrine.

What are the alternatives of the Democrats? They were clarified in March 2007, when the House and Senate approved Democratic proposals setting deadlines for withdrawal. Gen. Kevin Ryan (retired), senior fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center of International Affairs, analysed the proposals for The Boston Globe.

The proposals permit the president to waive their restrictions in the interests of "national security," which leaves the door wide open, Ryan writes. They permit troops to remain in Iraq "as long as they are performing one of three specific missions: protecting U.S. facilities, citizens or forces; combating Al Qaeda or international terrorists; and training Iraqi security forces." The facilities include the huge U.S. military bases being built around the country and the U.S. Embassy -- actually a self-contained city within a city, unlike any embassy in the world. None of these major construction projects are under way with the expectation that they will be abandoned.

The other conditions are also open-ended. "The proposals are more correctly understood as a re-missioning of our troops," Ryan sums up: "Perhaps a good strategy -- but not a withdrawal."

It is difficult to see much difference between the March 7 Democratic proposals and those of Obama and Clinton.

IRAN

WITH regard to Iran, Obama is considered more moderate than Clinton, and his leading slogan is "change." So let us keep to him.

Obama calls for more willingness to negotiate with Iran, but within the standard constraints. His reported position is that he "would offer economic inducements and a possible promise not to seek 'regime change' if Iran stopped meddling in Iraq and cooperated on terrorism and nuclear issues," and stopped "acting irresponsibly" by supporting Shia militant groups in Iraq.

Some obvious questions come to mind. For example, how would we react Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he would offer a possible promise not to seek "regime change" in Israel if it stopped its illegal activities in the occupied territories and cooperated on terrorism and nuclear issues?

Obama's moderate approach is well to the militant side of public opinion -- a fact that passes unnoticed, as is often the case. Like all other viable candidates, Obama has insisted throughout the electoral campaign that the United States must threaten Iran with attack (the standard phrase is: "keep all options open"), a violation of the U.N. Charter, if anyone cares. But a large majority of Americans have disagreed: 75 per cent favour building better relations with Iran, as compared with 22 per cent who favour "implied threats," according to PIPA. All the surviving candidates, then, are opposed by three-fourths of the public on this issue.

American and Iranian opinion on the core issue of nuclear policy has been carefully studied. In both countries, a large majority holds that Iran should have the rights of any signer of the Nonproliferation Treaty: to develop nuclear power but not nuclear weapons.

The same large majorities favour establishing a "nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East that would include both Islamic countries and Israel." More than 80 per cent of Americans favour eliminating nuclear weapons altogether -- a legal obligation of the states with nuclear weapons, officially rejected by the Bush administration.

And surely Iranians agree with Americans that Washington should end its military threats and turn towards normal relations.

At a forum in Washington when the PIPA polls were released in January 2007, Joseph Cirincione, senior vice-president for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress (and Obama adviser), said the polls showed "the common sense of both the American people and the Iranian people, (who) seem to be able to rise above the rhetoric of their own leaders to find common sense solutions to some of the most crucial questions" facing the two nations, favouring pragmatic diplomatic solutions to their differences.

Though we do not have internal records, there is good reason to believe that the Pentagon is opposed to an attack on Iran. The March 11 resignation of Admiral William Fallon as head of the Central Command, responsible for the Middle East, was widely interpreted to trace to his opposition to an attack, probably shared with the military command generally.

The December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate reporting that Iran had not pursued a nuclear weapons program since 2003, when it sought and failed to reach a comprehensive settlement with the United States, perhaps reflects opposition of the intelligence community to military action.

There are many uncertainties. But it is hard to see concrete signs that a Democratic presidency would improve the situation very much, let alone bring policy into line with American or world opinion.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

ON ISRAEL-Palestine too, the candidates have provided no reason to expect any constructive change.

On his web site, Obama, the candidate of "change" and "hope," states that he "strongly supports the US-Israel relationship, believes that our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America's strongest ally in the Middle East."

Transparently, it is the Palestinians who face by far the most severe security problem, in fact a problem of survival. But Palestinians are not a "strong ally." At most, they might be a very weak one. Hence their plight merits little concern, in accord with the operative principle that human rights are largely determined by contributions to power, profit and ideological needs.

Obama's web site presents him as a superhawk on Israel. "He believes that Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state should never be challenged." He is not on record as demanding that the right of countries to exist as Muslim (Christian, White) states "should never be challenged."

Obama calls for increasing foreign aid "to ensure that (the) funding priorities (for military and economic assistance to Israel) are met." He also insists forcefully that the United States must not "recognise Hamas unless it renounced its fundamental mission to eliminate Israel." No state can recognise Hamas, a political party, so what he must be referring to is the government formed by Hamas after a free election that came out "the wrong way" and is therefore illegitimate, in accord with prevailing elite concepts of "democracy."

And it is considered irrelevant that Hamas has repeatedly called for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus, which the United States and Israel reject.

Obama does not ignore Palestinians: "Obama believes that a better life for Palestinian families is good for both Israelis and Palestinians." He also adds a reference to two states living side by side that is vague enough to be unproblematic to U.S. and Israeli hawks.

For Palestinians, there are now two options. One is that the United States and Israel will abandon their unilateral rejectionism of the past 30 years and accept the international consensus on a two-state settlement, in accord with international law and, incidentally, in accord with the wishes of a large majority of Americans. That is not impossible, though the two rejectionist states are working hard to render it so.

A second possibility is the one that the US-Israel are actually implementing. Palestinians will be consigned to their Gaza prison and to West Bank cantons, virtually separated from one another by Israeli settlements and huge infrastructure projects, the whole imprisoned as Israel takes over the Jordan Valley.

Nevertheless, circumstances may change, and perhaps the candidates along with them, to the benefit of the United States and the region. Public opinion may not remain marginalised and easily ignored. The concentrations of domestic economic power that largely shape policy may come to recognise that their interests are better served by joining the general public, and the rest of the world, than by accepting Washington's hard line.

(This article is adapted from the updated paperback edition of Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy. By Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar published by Paradigm Publishers, September 2007)

Hvis folket bestemte i USA så meget anderledes ud. Det gør folket bare ikke....

Sarah Palin er efter sigende valgt ud fra sin base i republikanernes højrefløj, valgt ved et hemmeligt møde? hvortil folket desværre var forment adgang.

Og de traditionelle værdier i USA er kristne, hvide middelklasseværdier, som i et et forundeligt mix af fanatisme sættes ind mod abort, sex før ægteskabet mens der prædikes om velsignelsen til at bære våben og skyde hvem som helst man vil næsten.

Hvis bare den republikanske base og det republikanske parti var sammensat af landmænd, bankrådgivere, suburba families mv. - men se, det er det ikke. Op igennem 1990erne er det nemlig lykkedes det religiøse højre at erobre det republikanske parti; partiet er i dag ikke længere et parti for nationalkonservative eller social-konservative mennesker, som mener, at hårdt arbejde og en mindre stat er at foretrække.

I stedet er det blevet overtaget totalt af folk som Palin som i fuldt alvor mener at The Rapture kommer - og at Israel er forudbestemt til at spille en afgørende rolle - og at religiøse argumenter kan bruges til hvad som helst.

Det er rigtigt at USA er et stort land, og derfor har hver stat andre værdier end f.eks. stater i Europa har. Nogle stater, f.eks. dem på Østkysten er dog tættere på Europa's værdier end USA generelt er.

Og selv i EU-parlamentet grupperer man sig efter partier og holdninger. I USA er valgsystemet langt an på en valgkreds=en mand i Washington.

Jeg tror den gode Frum vist skal have et kursus i, hvordan man får et våben i Danmark og i resten af Europa. Alle i Europa og i Danmark over 18 år kan afskaffe sig et våben. Det kræver blot, at man tager jagttegn eller ansøger politiet om en licens (mener jeg?)

Og nej, Frum, alle franskmænd elsker ikke våben lige å meget som amerikanerne gør. USA elsker vold...af en eller mærkelig grund? Det gør Europa ikke. Måske fordi Europa igennem krigene op igennem tiden har set hvad våben kan gøre...

Og det er altså ikke eliten i Frankrig, der bestemmer. Det er det Franske Parlament, som er valgt af folket - på en meget mere demokratisk måde end den man bruger i USA (og i Canada).

Og ja, Barack Obama er en rigtig amerikaner. Han er bestemt lige så rigtig som McCain er det. Og Barack Obama er mere end det. Han er indbegrebet af fremtiden, symbolet på globaliseringen, personificeret i ham og hans person.

Og al den tale om amerikansk identitet - tjah - hvad er det ?

Er USA's styrke ikke at det har en multi-kultur, en frodighed af mellemfolkelige bånd mm. Og netop ikke kun en identitet, men mange identiteter?