Reparations for national policy mistakes

Jack wrote this in September, 2006:

Pre-emptive reparations for national policy mistakesTodd’s correctly observed on justxploring’s blog, that the US makes errors and mistakes in policy and behavior, same as any other nation.  He’s also pointed out that after having done so the US occasionally attempts to make reparations for those mistakes, such as the belated recognition by Ronald Reagan concerning Japanese American descent citizenry spending WWII in concentration camps and having their property confiscated.

From my point of view this is an important acknowledgement that’s severely lacking in US Government decision-making.  Attempts were made by the founders to build-in safeguards to assure important decisions aren’t made lightly, but those have now been circumvented and ignored for half-a-century.  They’ve now been flattened into oblivion by precedence.

  • Most Americans today would agree the entire issue of the Korean War could have used some careful examination before entering it.
  • Most Americans today would agree the Bay of Pigs debacle was ill-conceived. (A sizeable percentage of the population was outraged when they learned of it at the time)
  • Most historians and well-informed Americans today would agree the Cuban Missile Crisis was a mistake that led two countries to the brink of total destruction.
  • Many Americans today (and then) believed the Vietnam War needed public examination and debate before entering it, rather than after it was fait accompli.
  • Most Americans today would agree the sale of weaponry to various Middle Eastern countries during the Reagan Administration years was a mistake (A sizeable percentage of the population was outraged when they learned of it at the time)…
  • Most Americans today would agree the ‘secret war’ in Central America conducted during the Reagan Administration was also a mistake.  (A sizeable percentage of the population was outraged when they learned of it at the time)…

Some, if not all of these were certainly mistakes among many others the US made during the times of ‘Emergency Presidential Powers’.  These powers were adopted during the extraordinary times of WWII, continued afterward because of the Cold War.

The US will never avoid making mistakes in the future.  It’s a given that nations will make mistakes, both within, and without.

The issue is how the US, or any nation can best avoid making these mistakes.  It’s a particularly poignant issue because of the position of overwhelming power occupied by the US at the moment.

From Korea onward the pattern chosen by US Presidents for involving the nations in military adventures has been consistent.  They place American troops into a combat environment in response to one or another situation involving US ‘interests’.  As a result, Americans in, and out of officialdom who are doubtful of the wisdom of the act of war are placed in a position of questionable patriotism.

“Support the Troops!” becomes the clarion cry from supporters of the political party, the Chief Executive, the decision.  Doubt and a desire for careful scrutiny and weighing of the matter, a desire for public discourse and debate, are drowned in platitudes and patriotic declarations and accusations.

The question really is, as a nation most powerful on earth, what sort of nation do we wish to be?

As a people do wish to allow our elected Chief Executives to continue acting in the heat of the moment involving the nation in military adventures outside our borders, except when undeniable immediate military response is necessary?

Or do we, as a people, have a responsibility to demand of the Chief Executives we’ve elected to act on our behalf, that they dissolve the Emergency Powers and return to the national circumspection and public involvement in national direction our founders, in their wisdom, believed we need?

Probably the issue is moot.  The simple fact is, the US citizenry no longer have the power to make such a demand.

We’ve abdicated the throne once reserved for ‘The People’, to a king.



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