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Ross Nelson, Published March 03 2012

Nelson: ‘No longer ruler of our spirit’

Before country, world and God in a GOP presidential debate last fall, Newt Gingrich advocated “covert operations to block ... the Iranian (nuclear) operations, including taking out their scientists.” Another GOP candidate couldn’t agree more: Rick Santorum spoke of problems, computer viruses and dead nuclear scientists turning up in Iran and hoped that “the United States has been involved with that.” In another forum, the devout Christian Santorum noted several Iranian scientists had “turned up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.”

Let’s be clear about these comments: Presidential candidates in one of the two greatest political parties on earth are openly advocating sabotage and murdering civilians in a country that doesn’t threaten us. Did anyone bat an eye? Was anyone shocked that these barbarisms flowed from the mouths of allegedly civilized men? We accept this kind of thuggery partly because there’s a corner of depraved indifference in most Americans’ hearts.

It doesn’t matter that American and international law forbid assassinations. You can see this depravity everywhere nowadays. That God-fearing, hardworking neighbor who’d give the shirt off his back to help his fellow man is often the first to call for war, destruction, even plain murder to be poured on whomever our government says is the enemy of the day. Liberals, too, share this darkness. Local radio talk-show host Mike McFeely some weeks back approved of murdering Iranian nuclear scientists, i.e., civilians in a country working in a legal profession. What odd bedfellows our posse of wannabe lawbreakers consists of: everyone from lunatic modern conservatives and neocons to liberals.

In fact, McFeely averred he didn’t care what Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Obama adminstration say about Iran not actually building nuclear bombs. His gut feeling justifies murder in Iran anyway. Not only has Panetta repeatedly denied that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, so has James Clapper, director of National Intelligence. So have Israel’s leaders, who believe Iran hasn’t even decided yet whether to pursue nuclear weapons. So have America’s

16 intelligence agencies and their various National Intelligence Estimates.

No wonder the GOP delegates mocked Ron Paul in South Carolina for invoking the golden rule. If the 600,000 or so Iraqi civilians America has directly and indirectly killed since the 1990s don’t disturb their consciences, Christian strictures surely won’t be an effective argument either. Besides, we’re America. God’s laws don’t apply to us.

Prescience is precious because it’s so scarce. John Quincy Adams knew exactly what would happen if America went abroad searching for monsters to destroy and countries to save: “The frontlet on her brow” would become an “imperial diadem, flashing ... the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world; she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”

Nelson is a Fargo postal worker and regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary page.