Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Thomas Pogge

As could be shown at much greater length, there is no truth in the notion of our governments and their foreign ministers, diplomats, and negotiators being motivated by humanitarian concerns that international law as it stands obliges them to suppress. […]

There are no humanitarian heroes among those who exercise power in our names. This is why we are treated to a purely hypothetical example. This hypothetical appeals irresistibly to the good sense of any person whose humanity has not been thoroughly corrupted. Yes of course, we exclaim, the law (and much else) may and must be set aside to save 800,000 people from being hacked to death merely because they are Tutsis or want to live in peace with them. But when the lesson will be accepted and the plain meaning of the Charter will be viewed as unworthy of defense, then it is not the good sense of Thomas Franck and us citizens that will fill the vacuum. Rather, outcomes will then be determined by the “good sense” of those whose humanity has been corrupted through their ascent to national office, through their power, and through the adversarial character of their role: by the good sense of people like Clinton, Albright, and Kofi Annan, who enabled the genocide in Rwanda, by the good sense of people like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, who are more interested in liberating oil fields abroad than human beings. To be sure, the overt or covert violence unleashed by such politicians—regularly rationalized as humanitarian—sometimes happens to prevent more harm than it produces. But the overall record over the last 60 years is not encouraging.

Thomas Pogge, ‘Power v. Truth: Realism and Responsibility’, in Terry Nardin and Melissa S. Williams (eds.), Humanitarian Intervention, New York, 2006, p. 166

Peter Singer

The clearest sign of a Christian, and more specifically evangelical, influence on Bush’s ethics is his repeated invocation of a conflict between good and evil. We have seen that Bush often talks of “the evil ones” and even occasionally of those who are “servants of evil.” He urges us to “call evil by its name,” to “fight evil” and tells us that out of evil will come good. This language comes straight out of apocalyptic Christianity. To understand the context in which Bush uses this language, we need to remember that tens of millions of Americans hold an apocalyptic view of the world. According to a poll taken by Time, 53 percent of adult Americans “expect the imminent return of Jesus Christ, accompanied by the fulfillment of biblical prophecies concerning the cataclysmic destruction of all that is wicked.” One of the signs of the apocalypse that will precede the Second Coming of Christ is the rise of the Antichrist, the ultimate enemy of Christ, who heads Satan’s forces in the battle that will culminate in the triumph of the forces of God, and the creation of the Kingdom of God on earth. Projecting this prophecy onto the world in which they live, many American Christians see their own nation as carrying out a divine mission. The nation’s enemies therefore are demonized. That is exactly what Bush does. When, during a discussion about the looming war with Iraq with Australian Prime Minister John Howard in February 2003, Bush said that liberty for the people of Iraq would not be a gift that the United States could provide, but rather, “God’s gift to every human being in the world,” he seemed to be suggesting that there was divine endorsement for a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. David Frum, Bush’s speechwriter at the time of his “axis of evil” speech, says of Bush’s use of the term “evil ones” for the people behind 9/11: “In a country where almost two-thirds of the population believes in the devil, Bush was identifying Osama bin Laden and his gang as literally satanic.”

Peter Singer, The President of Good and Evil, New York, 2004, pp. 202-203