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Sunday, February 16, 2003
 
US to punish German 'treachery'

It looks like Donald Rumsfeld has found a new blockbuster to add to the all-star cavalcade of monumental thickheadedness that has become U.S. foreign policy:

The US will withdraw all its troops and bases from there and end military and industrial co-operation between the two countries - moves that could cost the Germans billions of euros.

The plan - discussed by Pentagon officials and military chiefs last week on the orders of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - is designed 'to harm' the German economy to make an example of the country for what US hawks see as Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's 'treachery'.


While the rationale for having troops in Germany has dried up and blown away with the demise of the Iron Curtain, redeploying our forces, to say nothing of withdrawing our diplomatic affinity, as a public slap in the face is stupefying.

Say it with me: we're going to punish a country that refuses to go along with a war that we can't even convincingly justify. This is intelligent? This is sane?

Is this the dawn of a new doctrine? Are all of our initiatives to be constructed according to the 'all stick, no carrot' model?

The Bush administration stepped back from its initial unilateralist stance against Iraq and took the position that it would abide by (or at least consider) the decision of the UN Security Council. Since then, it has articulated a number of variously specious and disingenuous arguments to sway their position. Fair (if despicable) enough. Now we're attempting to fix the vote through intimidation? This from the world's beacon of democracy?

This brings to mind Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of stages of morality, in which he posits a sequence of successively more sophisticated levels of morality through which we advance as we get older and learn more about the world. While many people never reach the highest stage, nearly everyone manages to get past the first stage. Except for Rumsfeld:

Stage 1 -- Punishment and obedience orientation (Preconventional)
In this stage, rules of conduct derive their force from the power figures who back them. The primary focus is on avoiding punishment. Rules are looked at as concrete, prohibitory, and not universally applicable. There's also no sense that the rules are necessary for maintaining greater social order.


via Atrios