I am absolutely disgusted by the actions of the United States in the last months. The human rights abuses in Guantanamo and in Afghanistan. The attack on Iraq contrary to international law and to most basic civilized rules. The lies with which it has tried to justify it and the refusal to acknowledge the lies in spite of all evidence. The barbaric atrocities committed in Iraq. The military actions which have resulted in thousands of innocent Iraqis being killed. The torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib of which we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. The refusal to punish those responsible and the cover-up while punishing a few lower ranks to nominal punishments. The participation of doctors in the cover-ups, The continual waging of war against the Iraqi people which continues to result in more deaths every day. The continued destruction of Iraq. The attempt to justify it all by claiming the puppet government installed by the United States is the only legitimate authority in Iraq. These are things which are an abomination and shock my conscience. It is appalling that any nation would do such things but it is much worse that the United States would do it. I feel betrayed by the country I havebeen defending all my life. The United States have allowed themselves to be drawn into a frenzy and have abandoned the most basic principles of what they are supposed to stand for and, by claiming that might makes right, they are endorsing terrorist actions everywhere. No sir, such repulsive actions would not be justified even by the noblest of ends, much less by the imperialistic aim of dominating Iraq politically and militarily and controlling their economy and their oil. It is a shame on the United States and a shame on the rest of the civilized world which chooses to look the other way in the face of such huge crimes rather than risk straining relations with the USA. I am disgusted and appalled and I wish there was something else I could do but hang my head in shame for humanity. Shame on America. Shame on those who support the atrocities. Shame on those who prefer to look the other way. And God help us all because the damage will take decades and generations to repair. We will all pay a heavy price, including the United States.

Noble ends do not and cannot justify evil means. Basic and long-standing principle of Christian ethics and of Western civilization.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions Late sixteenth century proverb.

An event has happened, upon which it is difficult to speak, and impossible to be silent. Edmund Burke Irish philosopher and statesman (1729 -1797).

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. Edmund Burke Irish philosopher and statesman (1729 -1797).

To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely. Edmund Burke Irish philosopher and statesman (1729 -1797).

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. John Donne, "Devotions upon Emergent Occasions" (1623), XVII: Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris - "Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me: Thou must die."

When fighting a monster you should be careful that you do not become a monster yourself. Chinese proverb

"What one cannot solve with fair means, one has to solve with violence, because it cannot go on like this" Adolf Hitler quoted by Wilhelm Treue: "Rede Hitlers vor der deutschen Presse (10 November 1938). Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 6 (1958), p. 175-88       http://holocaust-info.dk/shm/florida.htm

There is no good and evil,
there is only power,
and those too weak to seek it.
Lord Voldemort, fictional character in Harry Potter

A half truth is a whole lie. Yiddish proverb

December 18, 1893

The law of nations is founded upon reason and justice, and the rules of conduct governing individual relations between citizens or subjects of a civilized state are equally applicable as between enlightened nations. The considerations that international law is without a court for its enforcement, and that obedience to its commands practically depends upon good faith, instead of upon the mandate of a superior tribunal, only give additional sanction to the law itself and brand any deliberate infraction of it not merely as a wrong but as a disgrace. A man of true honor protects the unwritten word which binds his conscience more scrupulously, if possible, than he does the bond a breach of which subjects him to legal liabilities; and the United States in aiming to maintain itself as one of the most enlightened of nations would do its citizens gross injustice if it applied to its international relations any other than a high standard of honor and morality. President Grover Cleveland's message to the Senate and House of Representatives regarding the annexation of Hawaii.

December 18, 1893

While naturally sympathizing with every effort to establish a republican form of government, it has been the settled policy of the United States to concede to people of foreign countries the same freedom and independence in the management of their domestic affairs that we have always claimed for ourselves. President Grover Cleveland's message to the Senate and House of Representatives regarding the annexation of Hawaii.

I tell this tale, which is strictly true,
just by way of convincing you
How very little since things were made
Things have changed in the building trade.
Rudyard Kipling, A Truthful Song

The White Man's Burden Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain,
To seek another's profit
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine,
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
(The end for others sought)
Watch sloth and heathen folly
Bring all your hope to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden--
No iron rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper--
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go, make them with your living
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden,
And reap his old reward--
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloak your weariness.
By all ye will or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent sullen peoples
Shall weigh your God and you.

Take up the White Man's burden!
Have done with childish days--
The lightly-proffered laurel,
The easy ungrudged praise:
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers.

Rudyard Kipling, 1899, The White Man's Burden
in support of the American war in the Philippines.

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong. Abraham Lincoln

My Country, Right or Wrong

"Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong." Naval commander Stephen Decatur in a toast given at an April 1816 banquet in Norfolk, Virginia, to celebrate his victory over the Barbary pirates.

"Our country right or wrong.
When right, to be kept right;
when wrong, to be put right."
Carl Schurz, German-born U.S. general and U.S. senator, fifty five years later.

"'My country, right or wrong' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'" British author, G. K. Chesterton, 1901.

"Citizenship? We have none! In place of it we teach patriotism which Samuel Johnson said a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty years ago was the last refuge of the scoundrel -- and I believe that he was right. I remember when I was a boy and I heard repeated time and time again the phrase, 'My country, right or wrong, my country!' How absolutely absurd is such an idea. How absolutely absurd to teach this idea to the youth of the country." Mark Twain, --True Citizenship at the Children's Theater, 1907
Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire:
Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War.

My Country, Right or Wrong

I pray you to pause and consider. Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object -- robbery. At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. To-day they have turned, and their voice is the other way. What caused the change? Merely a politician's trick -- a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: Our Country, right or wrong! An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every school-house in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag. And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor -- none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation? Mark Twain, "Passage from 'Glances at History' (suppressed.)," a sketch he left unpublished in 1901. Mark Twain was an outspoken opponent of U.S. imperialism and the Philippine-American War and served as a vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League from 1901 until his death in 1910. Quickly labeled a "traitor," he was sensitive to calls to blind patriotism embodied in such phrases as "my country, right or wrong."

We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had:-- the individual’s right to oppose both flag and country when he (just he, by himself) believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism. Mark Twain

To the Person Sitting in Darkness

Shall we? That is, shall we go on conferring our Civilization upon the peoples that sit in darkness, or shall we give those poor things a rest? Shall we bang right ahead in our old-time, loud, pious way, and commit the new century to the game; or shall we sober up and sit down and think it over first? Would it not be prudent to get our Civilization-tools together, and see how much stock is left on hand in the way of Glass Beads and Theology, and Maxim Guns and Hymn Books, and Trade-Gin and Torches of Progress and Enlightenment (patent adjustable ones, good to fire villages with, upon occasion), and balance the books, and arrive at the profit and loss, so that we may intelligently decide whether to continue the business or sell out the property and start a new Civilization Scheme on the proceeds?

Extending the Blessings of Civilization to our Brother who Sits in Darkness has been a good trade and has paid well, on the whole; and there is money in it yet, if carefully worked -- but not enough, in my judgement, to make any considerable risk advisable. The People that Sit in Darkness are getting to be too scarce -- too scarce and too shy. And such darkness as is now left is really of but an indifferent quality, and not dark enough for the game. The most of those People that Sit in Darkness have been furnished with more light than was good for them or profitable for us. We have been injudicious.

Mark Twain, To the Person Sitting in Darkness

"I thought it would be a great thing to give a whole lot of freedom to the Filipinos, but I guess now that it's better to let them give it to themselves." Mark Twain, --Anti-Imperialist Homecoming, 1900
Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire:
Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War.

"I was not properly reared, and had the illusion that a flag was a thing which must be sacredly guarded against shameful uses and unclean contacts, lest it suffer pollution; and so when it was sent out to the Philippines to float over a wanton war and a robbing expedition I supposed it was polluted, and in an ignorant moment I said so. But I stand corrected. I concede and acknowledge that it was only the government that sent it on such an errand that was polluted. Let us compromise on that. I am glad to have it that way. For our flag could not well stand pollution, never having been used to it, but it is different with the administration." Mark Twain, --The American Flag, 1901
Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire
Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War.

November 1956

During a diplomatic reception at the Kremlin, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev told Western diplomats:

"About the capitalist states, it doesn't depend on you whether we (Soviet Union) exist. If you don't like us, don't accept our invitations, and don't invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it our not, history is on our side. We will bury you." In 1959, while attending the American National Exhibition in Moscow, Vice-President Nixon, recalling Khrushchev's prediction that our grandchildren will live under communism, stated: "Let me say that we don't object to his saying this will happen, We only object if he tries to bring it about ... We prefer our system. But the very essence of our belief is that we do not and will not try to impose our system on anybody else. We believe that you and all other peoples on this earth should have the right to choose the kind of economic or political system which best fits your particular problems without any foreign intervention," http://www.dpi.anl.gov/dpi2/timelines/1950s.htm

Khrushchev was regarded by his political enemies as a boorish, uncivilized peasant, with a reputation for interrupting speakers to insult them. In one famous incident at a United Nations conference on October 12, 1960, Lorenzo Sumulong, the Filipino delegate, asked Khrushchev how he could protest Western capitalist imperialism while the Soviet Union was at the same time rapidly assimilating Eastern Europe. Khrushchev became enraged and informed Sumulong that he was, "a jerk, a stooge and a lackey of imperialism," then removed one of his shoes and made a move as to bang it in the table, although he never did. The famous image where he is seen holding a shoe is manipulated (It would be impractical to hold a shoe by the heel if one intends to bang the table with it).


I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. It cannot be so easily discovered if you allow him to remain silent and look wise, but if you let him speak, the secret is out and the world knows that he is a fool. So it is by the exposure of folly that it is defeated; not by the seclusion of folly, and in this free air of free speech men get into that sort of communication with one another which constitutes the basis of all common achievement. Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), “That Quick Comradeship of Letters,” address at the Institute of France, Paris, May 10, 1919.—The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson, ed. Ray Stannard Baker and William E. Dodd, vol. 5, p. 484 (1927)

Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose—and you allow him to make war at pleasure. [...] If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, “I see no probability of the British invading us” but he will say to you “be silent; I see it, if you don't.” Representative Abraham Lincoln (1809–65), letter to William H. Herndon, February 15, 1848.—The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler, vol. 1, pp. 451–52 (1953).

It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program -- on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off-- than on any positive task. [...] The enemy, whether internal or external, seems to be an indispensible requisite in the armory of a totalitarian leader. F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

There can be no doubt that the promise of greater freedom has become one of the most effective weapons of socialist propaganda and that the belief that socialism would bring freedom is genuine and sincere. But this would only heighten the tragedy if it should prove that what was promised to us as the Road to Freedom was in fact the High Road to Servitude. F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

WHEN the course of civilization takes an unexpected turn--when, instead of the continuous progress which we have come to expect, we find ourselves threatened by evils associated by us with past ages of barbarism-we naturally blame anything but ourselves. Have we not all striven according to our best lights, and have not many of our finest minds incessantly worked to make this a better world! Have not all our efforts and hopes been directed toward greater freedom, justice, and prosperity If the outcome is so different from our aims--if, instead of freedom and prosperity, bondage and misery stare us in the face--is it not clear that sinister forces must have foiled our intentions, that we are the victims of some evil power which must be conquered before we can resume the road to better things! However much we may differ when we name the culprit--whether it is the wicked capitalist or the vicious spirit of a particular nation, the stupidity of our elders, or a social system not yet, although we have struggled against it for a half a century, fully overthrown--we all are, or at least were until recently certain of one thing: that the leading ideas which during the last generation have become common to most people Of good will and have determined the major changes in our social life cannot have been wrong. We are ready to accept almost any explanation of the present crisis of our civilization except one: that the present state of the world may be the result of genuine error on our own part and that the pursuit of some of our most cherished ideals has apparently produced results utterly different from those which we expected. F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

¿Deberíamos hacerlo? Es decir, ¿deberíamos seguir confiriendo nuestra Civilización a las gentes que están sentadas en la oscuridad, o deberíamos darles un descanso a esas pobres criaturas? ¿Debemos seguir adelante con nuestras formas anticuadas y pías durante todo el siglo que comienza o deberíamos sentarnos con sobriedad y pensárnoslo? ¿No sería prudente juntar nuestras herramientas de civilizar y hacer recuento de nuestras existencias de Teología y de Cuentas de Vidrio, de Misales y de Ametralladoras, de Ginebra de Garrafa y de Antorchas de Progreso y Civilización (modelo ajustable patentado, útil ocasionalmente para incendiar poblados) y hacer balance de pérdidas y ganancias de modo que podamos inteligentemente decidir si debemos seguir en el negocio o si, por el contrario, liquidar las propiedades y comenzar un nuevo Negocio de Civilización con la liquidación que obtengamos?

El extender las Bendiciones de la Civilización a nuestro Hermano Sentado en la Oscuridad ha sido buen negocio y ha sido muy rentable y todavía se puede ganar dinero en ello si se trabaja cuidadosamente -- pero en mi estimación no lo suficiente que aconsejara el tomar riesgos de importancia. Los Pueblos Sentados en la Oscuridad están volviéndose muy escasos --demasiado escasos y vergonzosos. Y la oscuridad que queda ya no es como la de antes y no es suficientemente oscura para que valga la pena el negocio. La mayoría de las Gentes Sentadas en la Oscuridad han recibido más luz de la que les convenía a ellos y de la que nos era rentable a nosotros. No hemos acertado en este negocio.

Mark Twain, To the Person Sitting in Darkness

Autor: Alfonso Gonzalez Vespa