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40th Anniversary of Senator Fulbright's "Arrogance of Power" Speech

The Arrogance of Power by J. William Fulbright
The liberal American Prospect wrote about an anniversary in April 2006, which the Atlantic Review missed:
Forty years ago this week, Senator J. William Fulbright delivered a speech at Johns Hopkins University on "the arrogance of power." Talk about a time bomb. "The question I find intriguing is whether a nation so extraordinarily endowed as the United States can overcome that arrogance of power which has afflicted, weakened, and, in some cases, destroyed great nations in the past," Fulbright said. "Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations -- to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image."
Many people believe the Bush administration's foreign policy is misguided, arrogant, and headed for disaster. But few were making that argument back when George W. Bush was still in college. Of course, the context of Fulbright's speech was not Bush's virtuous unilateralism or the divine summons to Iraq; it was President Lyndon Johnson's deepening engagement in Vietnam. But it's doubtful anyone in Congress today has delivered a more thoughtful critique of Bush’s foreign policy. What's even more striking from this vantage point, however, is that Fulbright delivered his broadside against a sitting president of his own party. Johnson was still a commanding and fairly popular figure in 1966 -- the Vietnam War, remember, did not lose majority support until spring 1968 -- when Fulbright rose to fulfill what he called "the patriot’s duty of dissent." The White House, Senate, and House were all controlled by one party, as they are today.
In August 2005, the Atlantic Review recommeded an article about Senator Hagel walking in Senator Fulbright's footsteps. The American Prospect writer Francis Wilkinson would like Senators Hagel and McCain to take note: "Do today what William Fulbright did 40 years ago this week, and then we'll talk":
Senator John McCain used to be good for an honest slap at the White House every now and then. But ever since he made up his mind to do whatever is necessary to win the Republican nomination in 2008, he's been a pussycat. Republican Senator Richard Lugar has been known to raise a paternal eyebrow and murmur something -- darned if I can recall what -- on a Sunday morning talk show. Senator Chuck Hagel occasionally strays from party, which is to say, White House, talking points. Arlen Specter held hearings on the NSA spying scandal -- and then refused to swear in administration witnesses. But faced with a situation not unlike Fulbright's in 1966, very few on the Republican side have dared to offer a critical public analysis of White House policy.
Mr. Wilkinson, however, does not outline what criticism and what constructive proposals regarding Iraq he expects from those Republican Senators. There seems to be a shortage of suggestions to improve the Bush administration's Iraq policy, while there certainly isn't a shortage of criticism.

Michigan State University presents a copy of Senator Fulbright's 1966 speech (HT: Phronesisaical). and sell Senator Fulbright's book The Arrogance of Power that followed after the speech.

The struggle for the rule of law: Guantanamo and torture

Torture and indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo have been hot topics in Washington in recent weeks. Senator McCain wants to categorically ban torture, while Vice President Cheney wants to give the CIA the right to torture.  The Senate is looking for a compromise, writes the Washington Post:

By linking a provision to deny prisoners the right to challenge their detention in federal court with language restricting interrogation methods, senators hope to soften the administration's ardent opposition to McCain's anti-torture provision -- or possibly win its support.

Following is a list of the many different decisions made by the Supreme Court, federal courts and the Senate concerning the application of the law to terrorist suspects as well as appeals by three Republican Senators for defending liberal values in the war on terrorism and suggesting that Guantanamo should be closed based on a the cost-benefit analysis.


The struggle for the rule of law intensified, when the Supreme Court ruled that the government may hold terrorist suspects in Guantanamo without trial, but there must be judicial oversight, i.e. all detainees have the right to challenge their detention in a U.S. court on the basis of habeas corpus (wrongful imprisonment). Consequently the lawyers of many Guantanamo detainees went to the federal courts to appeal the decisions of the military tribunals.

The federal courts ruled in favor of many detainees, like Murat Kurnaz. The administration then went to the Court of Appeals.



The Senate did not want to wait for the ruling of the Court of Appeals and voted 49 to 42 for the Graham Amendment that would undermine the habeas corpus principle and the previous Supreme Court ruling concerning judicial oversight. 350 law professors oppose the amendment and argue

This Amendment, as currently drafted, seeks to eliminate existing habeas corpus jurisdiction over petitions now pending as well as those to be filed by detainees at Guantánamo Bay. We write because we believe this course of action unwise and contrary to the most fundamental precepts of American constitutional traditions. (…)

The Graham Amendment would dramatically erode our core constitutional commitment to separation of powers. The Amendment consigns the protection of fundamental human liberties to unilateral executive determination under which the Executive chooses the prisoners, chooses the charges, chooses the judges, chooses the punishment – and cuts off judicial review of its determinations. We should not forget the Framers' insight, expressed so eloquently by James Madison in the 47th Federalist Paper, that the "accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

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Republican Senator Hagel walks in Senator Fulbright's footsteps

All high ranking Republicans support President Bush's policy on Iraq? Think again! Senator Hagel, a Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, reminds Boston Globe Columnist Derrick Z. Jackson of Senator Fulbright:

As President Bush's war in Iraq becomes more maddening to Americans, the more Hagel talks as if he is the Republican who will become to Bush what J. William Fulbright once was to Lyndon Johnson. Fulbright was the Democratic senator from Arkansas who publicly turned against Johnson's war in Vietnam. Fulbright used his power as the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold nationally televised hearings to debate the merits of the war. (...)
The more disconnected the Bush administration becomes, the more Hagel -- who is said to be testing the waters for a presidential run in 2008 -- finds himself linking himself to the legacy of Fulbright. A measure of how badly Bush has botched events since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is that a Republican might run on something that smacks of an antiwar platform. In a January speech before the World Affairs Council, Hagel noted Fulbright's Vietnam hearings. ''Fulbright received criticism for holding public hearings on Vietnam, especially with a president of his own party in office," Hagel said. ''Fulbright later wrote that he held those hearings 'in the hope of helping to shape a true consensus in the long run, even at the cost of dispelling the image of a false one in the short run.' " Hagel continued by saying, ''Today, we must not be party to a false consensus in Iraq or any foreign policy issue." That echoes Fulbright's famous statement: ''The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust government statements."

Big thanks to David from Dialog International for sending us this article.

Republican leaders make remarkable comments on US foreign policy

Condoleezza Rice blames liberal and conservative US administrations of the past 60 years for the lack of democracy in the Middle East.
Karl Rove ridicules liberals as soft on terrorism, while Donald Rumsfeld admits negotiations with the terrorists in Iraq. Dick Cheney believes the insurgency will end soon, while Chuck Hagel thinks the US is loosing in Iraq and the White House is disconnected from reality. And Tom DeLay compares the quality of life in Iraq with Houston, Texas.
Moreover, the Berlin based Republicans protest against the planned demolition of the Checkpoint Charlie memorial honoring the victims of the Berlin Wall.

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