It is refreshing to see that speakers at our 2007 and 2008 conferences “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy and Civil Liberties” have continued speaking out in the defense of civil liberties and in opposition to the pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy that holds our nation in its grip.
Many of the lawyers who spoke at the conference are taking a leading role in the national torture debate that is now taking place across the land. These include Bruce Fein, Jonathan Turley, Joseph Margulies, Glenn Greenwald, Joanne Mariner, and Andrew Napolitano.
Consider this excerpt from an excellent article from today’s Asia Times entitled “Farewell, the American Century” by Andrew J. Bacevich, another one of our conference speakers:
“What are we to make of these blunders? The temptation may be to avert our gaze, thereby preserving the reassuring tale of the American Century. We should avoid that temptation and take the opposite course, acknowledging openly, freely, and unabashedly where we have gone wrong. We should carve such acknowledgments into the face of a new monument smack in the middle of the Mall in Washington: We blew it. We screwed the pooch. We caught a case of the stupids. We got it ass-backwards.
“Only through the exercise of candor might we avoid replicating such mistakes.
“Indeed, we ought to apologize. When it comes to avoiding the repetition of sin, nothing works like abject contrition. We should, therefore, tell the people of Cuba that we are sorry for having made such a hash of US-Cuban relations for so long. Obama should speak on our behalf in asking the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for forgiveness. He should express our deep collective regret to Iranians and Afghans for what past US interventionism has wrought.
“The US should do these things without any expectations of reciprocity. Regardless of what US officials may say or do, Castro won’t fess up to having made his own share of mistakes. The Japanese won’t liken Hiroshima to Pearl Harbor and call it a wash. Iran’s mullahs and Afghanistan’s jihadists won’t be offering to a chastened Washington to let bygones be bygones.
“No, we apologize to them, but for our own good — to free ourselves from the accumulated conceits of the American Century and to acknowledge that the US participated fully in the barbarism, folly and tragedy that define our time. For those sins, we must hold ourselves accountable.
“To solve our problems requires that we see ourselves as we really are. And that requires shedding, once and for all, the illusions embodied in the American Century.”
Bacevich expresses the type of thinking that can lead our nation out of the darkness into which it has plunged. If you haven’t seen his speech at our conference or the other speeches, I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are the greatest collection of speeches on how to get our nation back on the right track — the track toward freedom, morality, peace, prosperity, and harmony with the people of the world.