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Bill Moyers asks...

As you saw on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with Professor Marilyn B. Young about the war in Iraq and the legacy of Vietnam:
Watch the video---------------
BILL MOYERS: You know, I was in the Johnson White House when the President escalated the war in Vietnam. And as with the Bush administration, intelligence was fixed to support the policy. The President brought Congress aboard without telling them the whole truth. The domino theory was our mantra. If we don't stop them there, they'll be here. I mean, Johnson, Nixon, Bush, the foreign policy elites. Is there something in our DNA?
Now it's your turn to sit in the interview chair:

"Is there something in our DNA?"


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What is the deal with irrelevant questions when it comes to political evils? Is it in our DNA? Johnson, Bush, both Texans, and both megalomaniacs with as little understanding of the poor as one of the Hunt brothers, who speculated the average Americans' income was probably around 300,000 dollars a year, or some rediculous figure. Remember the Hunt brothers? Who wanted to hoard all the silver as a hedge against inflation with the help of some Arabs? Also Texans. Why not ask: what is it with Texans? Are they Americans? or do they think they are a Nation unto themselves? Did they ratify the Constitution? No. And, where is Moyers from? Born in OK, but raised in, guess: Texas. So, that may explain the lame question. Way too wishy washy, and not a ball grabbing, tuck it to-'em liberal. When he had Rep. Waxman on, Waxman said he didn't know why things were going the way the were going insofar as the commercialization of the war, Blackwater, etc. Gee! You'd think Moyers would have said: WHY DON'T YOU KNOW? You are in the job of knowing what threatens America, from within or without. You're a freakin' representative of the interests of the American People! but he didn't. Lame.

Rick, America didn't win the Cold War. America and Russia lost; China won.

America is being crushed under the weight of Reagan's massive borrowing spree. You don't know that your country lost the Cold War, because you haven't paid the price yet. America is still taking out new loans, to pay the interest on Reagan's twenty year old debt. When all the lenders decide that it's time to end the free ride, and start taking their profits, then you will understand that Reagan lost the Cold War.

Dear Maggie, you wrote: "Kim, Thanks for making me aware of the "truth" according to Scott Ritter. I should point out, however, that the President usually relies on professionals in the various intelligence agencies for strategic information; not the press, not random "informed people," and certainly not middle-aged sex offenders..." Scott Ritter has said he was "gagged" by the judge in that case and could not talk about it and was not judged guilty. Was it perhaps, because there were Carl Rowe like dirty tricks involved, to get Scott to shut up about Bush being a war criminal, and was the judge a Republican? You probably can still google Scott's pre war speeches online, and find that they are still relevant. Thanks to Scott I knew before Bush's blunder into his own pre emptive war, that there were no tons of WMD's. There was an accounting problem and our troops probably have accounting problems too. The real problem was that Bushies did indeed frighten off our mass media.

What would seem to be in our DNA is the type of intelligence we have.

But I am much more of a believer in "Nurture" that I am in so called "nature."

And when I say "type" of intelligence, what I mean is our ability "to do nuance"

Every RECOVERING person I ever met, from alchoholic and dysfunctional homes, has expessed that they struggle with an inability to see that NOTHING in life is black and white.

And by the time Mr. Bush proudly declared "I don't do nuance" I felt like taking a hook, saying "OK BUDDY THAT'S ENOUGH" and pulling him off the stage permanenetly.

Tonight I would have liked to have seen you interview Senator John Kerry instead.

He ran on "A Smarter, More Strategic War on the Terrorists"

And since the The Alchoholic Republican Apeasers: The Talking Heads (where the Reporters seem to get their news from), wrote John off as "too Nunaced" AND PROCEDED TO MISREPRESENT HIS POSITIONS OVER AND OVER AGAIN, A longer show would have alloweed for a calmer and more Nuanced conversation about the NO WIN BUSH WAR.

I consider myself a SCREAMING centrist. Between 1962 and 69 I attended every civil rights and anti-Vietnam war demonstation between DC and NYC.

In the 70s I spent time in Afghanistan, before the Soviets leveled it and killed 1 million and before the Misongynist Taliban and Al Qaueda took over that country and began killing women just for having their ankles show...and before Bush 1 and Baker dropped that country like a hot potato, just because the Soviets left, like a Jon dismantling a whore they used...which lead to the Taliban etc.

I agree that we cannot just leave Iraq. And agree with many but NOT ALL the points the Kerry you did have on said. And he was very inarticulate about his point of view, I thought. But that is because Democrats are Not Media Trained..and by the way Republicans are...and it is their ONLY strength.

As for the misinformation constantly SPEWED BY THE Talking Heads:

This is where the typ of Intelligence we have comes in.

Healthy intelligence is CURIOUS. So when the Talking Heads kept saying that "The Democrats have no Strategy for Iraq"
A LITTLE CURIOUSITY WOULD HAVE LEAD TO SOME DIGGING AND ONE WOULD HAVE LEARNED THAT IT WAS A **Republican Talking Point that Tim Russert, Chris Mathews, Bill Riley, The Guests on Washington Week, etc. etc. were repeating AND NOT THE FACTS.

The Democrats made very SMART PROPOSALS ALONG THE WAY...about a place that was chaning daily.

From the fact that the Suniis should be included in the constitution and profits from oil, a loose Federation, TO REMOVING COMBAT FORCES OUT AND HAVING MORE SPECIAL FORCES
the (40K) to fight Alqaeda.

But all this was too nuanced for the inforamation pipelines..that use the White House as their secret sources..AND HAVE ACTED AS IF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WAS HOLDING THEIR CHILDREN HOSTAGE.

I am sick and tired of the Democrats being blamed.

Your other guest was innacurtate too. The House has not been negotiating for 6 months about a non legislature ethics oversight committee. Because Nancy Pelosi has only been there for 4 months!

I suggest you stop blaming the Democrats. They do not completely control the Senate.


To say that the Democrats have capitulated is TO BUY INTO THE Republican talking points and to THOSE WHO DO NOT DO NUANCE.

Mr. BUsh was allowed to get away with calling Kerry a flip flopper. All while he was committing the biggest flip flop in history by firing 650,000 Iraquis from the Army and government agencies..and now trying to put all back together again!!

This is a Bush War! The Democrats voted to intimidate Sadam into allowing the INSPECTORS BACK IN, and only if he did not allow it was war agreed to as a last resort.

To blame the Democrats for Bush having pushed out the Inspectors and BETRAYING THOSE HE ASKED FOR THE VOTE FROM IS DYSFUNCTIONAL AND..while not in the the result of uninforemed people on both the left and the right.

I know, I saw it all live..20 hours a day for 7 years.

As for those who say we should completely pull out immdiately...this seems to me a reflection of a lack of knowledge about what happened to Afghanistan after the Soviets and the US pulled out.

As for those who site builing 7, while I'm at it, BUILDING 7 WAS blown up 2 NIGHTS AFTER TWC came down. It was because the structure WAS TILTING.

I know because I saw it live, and knew people who worked there.

There is Al Quaeda and they want to kill us..***MOSTLY BECAUSE OF REPUBLICICAN FORIEGN POLICY OVER THE YEARS**

From Iran in the 50s to dropping the Middle East Peace process By Reagan and Bush 2, who harmed both Israel and the United States through a foriegn policy of "mooning" the bad guys..and running a foriegn policy like a 1950s grade B Movie.

Sorry to typos


DNA of our leaders? No, it is excessive EGO of our leaders. 1. It is hard work for an EGO to admit that they are wrong and to not require excessive admiration. 2. It is hard work for an EGO to go outside its in group because it believes that it is "special" and unique and can only be understood by other special people. 3. It is hard work for an EGO to not have a grandiose sense of self-importance. 4. It is hard work for an EGO to not be preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, etc. 5. It is hard work for an EGO to not have a strong sense of entitlement. 6. It is hard work for an EGO to not take advantage of others to achieve its own ends. 7. It is hard work for an EGO to have genuine empathy. 8. It is hard work for an EGO to not have envy. 9. It is hard work for an EGO to not be arrogant. If you had 5 of the 9 challenges above, someone could call your challenge a Narcissistic personality disorder [NPD]. Our current President and his in group are not doing the hard spiritual work to recover from excessive EGO. They are expecting our troops to do the hard work of policing Iraq without knowing the culture or the language. That is what excessive EGOs do.

I don't think the question should be "Is there something in our DNA?" I think this question narrows the discussion to the point where any productive outcome to this discussion just gets narrowed right out.

We humans have a "fight or flight" survival mechanism hardwired into us. It's been there too long, and served us too well during the early stages of homo sapiens' development (stages that lasted way longer than our current stage), for it to just become bred out.

Compare "fight or flight" with "you're either with us or with the terrorists" and with "stay and get the job done or cut and run."

First, we humans must recognize this fight or flight tendency, and then when we see it reflexively occurring, take some deep breaths and pursue other alternatives. Diplomacy is not part of "fight or flight." It's a higher form of human interaction that needs to be supported by other social systems within a civilized society. We have to learn to employ diplomacy; it doesn't come naturally.

It really gets back to that old 60s slogan "War Is Not the Answer."

Thanks for well-written and thoughtful comments Melanie; but, I'm not sure what you mean when you write that the US has failed "to deal with slavery." We eliminated slavery in 1865, just as Canada did in 1833. Sure, there have been tremendous racial problems in our country, but there’s no question that the situation for African Americans has improved significantly since the 19th century. As for “dealing with slavery,” here where I live in Montgomery, Alabama (the scene of the Montgomery bus boycotts and the firebombing of Martin Luther King Jrs.’s home by racists) the Alabama state legislature just passed a formal apology for slavery—an APOLOGY FOR SLAVERY passed by a white state legislature in the heart of the Deep South. We have dealt with slavery and we continue to deal with it every day.

You also mentioned our “universally failed foreign adventures.” Didn’t we have some foreign adventures that didn’t fail? (e.g. defeating the Nazis and Japanese, that whole winning the Cold War thing, etc.); and by the way, we’re not done yet in Afghanistan and Iraq, so you really can’t count those as failures yet.

To blame the Iraq war on our "American DNA" gives George Bush a free pass. It "normalizes" Bushes irrational thinking and frees him from taking responsibility for his highly narcissistic personality. Americans should not be blamed. We are merely pawns in this high stakes game.

Some comments from a Canadian.

I appreciate that the term 'DNA' is metaphorical, but I am struck by the contrast with the underlying assumption that America is a unified race with shared blood. Canadians, with very similar history and immigration patterns (minus slavery and a Civil War) would never appeal to that formula. Contrast the debate on the same show about race with Melissa Harris-Lacewell. There, the issue is clearly the assumption that there are ingrained, immutable differences within the American populace that are essentially racial, ie expressed in the DNA of Americans. Again, that idea is entirely alien to your northern neighbours.

I commented there that Americans show an inflexibility that expresses itself in the resistance to understanding race as an essentially mixed, impure state. Here my response would be that Americans need to move away from essential tribal ideas about nationhood that seem to undermine sense of individual responsibility, especially to America's effects internationally.

In contrast to the commenter who suggested that the bad action of nations do not negate their good works I say that in fact no amount of good works will remove the negative impact of crimes committed against others that are not acknowledged. More simply, pride in acheivement becomes hubris when it precludes a serious admission of error. America still hasn't dealt in this way with the effects it had in Vietnam, never mind Central America, the Middle East and so on. I think it's fair to argue that the debate that exists around race in America has everything to do with a failure to deal with slavery. Unfortunately, there comes a time when the moment to acknowledge past wrongs and move on passes forever: this is how the middle east and the balkans became what they are: What follows is a sense of doomed inevitability, making appeals to innate nature: to DNA, in short, appealing.

The appeal to the idea of DNA is related in complex ways to the idea of inevitablity, and ultimately irresponsibility. The great light that America has shone, and may shine again on the world is the idea of responsibility, of power in the hands of the people not being an end in itself, but a critical element in the development of the citizen instead of the subject.

I think that many Americans have forgotten that your independence was not a uniquely American achievement: it was one of, if not the crowning glory of the Enlightenment, a system of rational thought that created the notion of the liberal individual. Rousseau and Voltaire attempted to describe independent thought and rationality enabling the creation of a better society, not tribalism. They understood that the truth that the human mind could discover was something which not King, God or Country could negate. This has been reduced, it seems to "Give me Liberty or give me Death", an ambiguous phrase that seems to appeal to the yearning for discovered truth and pure tribalism at the same time. You Americans are very good - some of you, and certainly the estimable Mr Moyers' audience - at understanding the real impact you have on others, not perhaps so good at using this to prevent future errors, as the universally failed foreign adventures you've engaged in, and are engaging in again shows. The failure to find a way to not repeat mistakes is not a function of genetics but your own will. After all, it is precisely the purpose of the democracy that you created to do this, but it requires that you use it. This may be uncomfortable, but it's true.

Rationality and tribalism seem to capture the essential tension in modern America. This is depressing. But the way forward is better questions and the strength to pursue them to their conclusions. This seems to be a missing element that has reduced America to its current straights.

Bill was obviously impressed with the talented Ms. Harris-Lacewell who steered through some very troubled waters with considerable grace. She turned some well chosen metaphors and showed just enough edge to make her points without scaring white people too much. It will be interesting to see how often such a telegenic and authoritative commentator appears elsewhere in the so-called liberal media; not very often I would think.

Americans are incredibly ignorant thanks to an education which omits all other countries, histories and perspectives.

Few know America did not "win" the First World War or the Second. Few know that democracy is not an American invention. Few bother to think that even to-day, racism and bigotry permeate the American culture. Which of you know that America did not enter the last world war until it, itself, was attacked and that it is the only country which actually made money as a result of the Second World War. The attack on the World Trade Center and Pearl Harbor hardly equates with the bombing of London or the twenty million dead Russians. Americans need to grow up. They are looters and pillagers of the weak. They have, within their own country, legalized racism and now fanatacize religiosity. It isn't DNA. It is plain and simple ignorance and willful pride. What America "generously" gives away is tied so that America will benefit. It is dominated by primitive religious beliefs which other countries must accept or do without. And all the time America lives off the fat of other lands. It is a lot like the mafia. If you keep quiet, do what you are told and keep all benefits in the family you prosper.

Kim, Thanks for making me aware of the "truth" according to Scott Ritter. I should point out, however, that the President usually relies on professionals in the various intelligence agencies for strategic information; not the press, not random "informed people," and certainly not middle-aged sex offenders. Also, I'm glad I was able to educate you about the humanity of the American people. Here are few truths in which you may be interested: the US provides a quarter of all of the government funded developmental aid and over 60 percent of all NGO grants (60 percent!). As a reasoning person I'm sure you must now agree with me that, yes, the US is the most humane democracy that has EVER existed.

So happy to have your thoughts available as podcasts...your dedication to broadcasting unapologetic truths is a real inspiration for my generation.

Good to have you back Bill.What is it going to take to turn American thinking around and realize that we are not alone on this planet?

Linda Hansen(5.14.07). Bravo! I was deeply moved by yur eloquence. I would only offer these thoughts. I am not sure that DNA, or simply biology doesn't have something to do with our follies. I offer Howard Bloom's "The Lucifer Principal" and "Global Brain". Yet, there is a counter force. I feel it in your words. It's called "Spirit". I offer Ken Wilber's "The Eye of the Spirit".
Thank you. Bless you.

I have to say that even though I'm in my 20s and I doubt too many others my age are dicthing MTV for PBS, I am utterly enamored by The Journal and it has become appointment tv. Rational, restrained, and created in the service of the democratic viewer, I (among many more, I assume) will only be too happy to tune in every week to see Bill's relevant reports. I ditched the carnival barkers on cable tv years ago, and no one has since filled the void. My gratitude, Mr. Moyers, for making me think, feel, and know I am not as incidental to the democratic process as I have felt in the last six years.

As to the point of whether or not our DNA drives our worst instincts, I don't know, though it wouldn't surprise me to learn that evolution programs us to be self-interested first and all else thereafter.

At the same time there seems to be an unmistakable (and manufactured) current in the atmosphere that patriotism has acquired the status of religion, that to question the government, its leaders, or its policies is to side with "enemy combatants" (or the Devil) whoever they may ill-definedly be. This, to me, is the primary woe of modern America. The reluctance, indeed outright inability, to question, to object, and to protest the inhumane policies enacted in the name of the American electorate amounts to fascism, and sadly it may be too late for our policies, our media, and our ideals to recover.

I will also say this: I am an ex-Muslim, an American born secular humanist who very often in his conservative religious upbringing has confronted the *exact* same notions of absolute submission and blind adherence which now chracterize American patriotism. So, I have to ask, is Patriotism an ideal worth pursuing anymore? Indeed, it was only my inability to reconcile the tenets of Islam with my humanist convictions that led me to question my religion and its none too subtle patriarchal, ethnocentric, misogynistic, racist, homophobic and anti-semitic "morality". I make these condemnations with the knowledge that many of the best people I know are proud and practicing Muslims. But that is beside the point. The main ingredient which fuels all types of fundamentalism, but particularly Islamic Fundamentalism (and now, it seems, ultrafascist American Patriotism), is the utter lack of questioning of authority or dogma and the failure to challenge the call upon the people to line up like zombies and support the killing of innocents, whether they be infidels, "terrorists" or collateral damage. It is important for everyone to understand, especially those who think Islamic extremists can be undone by bombs alone, that it is only a non-literalist, rationalist, and yes skeptical movement among Muslims which will determine how Islam emerges from its inner war and the war with the West. You can invest in ill-conceived, repeatedly failing military strategies, or you can make amends with the people and snuff out extremism before it it germinates. Oh, and by the way, it will be Mulsim women who will serve as the instruments of a liberal, egalitarian Islam, just as it will be those who question and challenge governments who will preseve democracy. It is a scary day, indeed, when what ails an atavistic tribal religion is exactly what threatens to undo the so-called democratic beacon of freedom, liberty, and human rights. What's the old adage? That usually what bothers you about someone else is really what bothers you about yourself? Islamic Fundamentalism and American Patriotism? The gap was once far and wide. It is now all but a blur.

Wow! I had no idea the US was so awful. And I thought that our Freedom House score of 37 meant that we were doing pretty well in the freedom and democracy departments. (Sure, Norway and the Netherlands each beat us out by three points, but there's always next year.) And since Graeme mentioned Hitler, I thought the fact that we saved the free world from destruction in two world wars should get us some points too. Look, of course if you go back in history you can find nasty things that were done by evil people in every country in the world (look at nice little Belgium's sordid Congo adventure).. That doesn't cancel out the good these same countries do. Most legitimate historians agree that, on the whole, the US has been a force for enormous good in world history. Face it, ceteris paribus, without the US there would be no "Free World" as it exists today. As for the comments about the Bush family history: you greatly exaggerate the role of Prescott Bush in history (no, he wasn't Hitler's banker. I don't even think Hitler ever even met him) and the various claims made about George H. W. Bush's very brief tenure at the CIA are completely unsubstantiated. In answer to your question about the School of the Americas: yes, I have been to Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC) at Fort Benning, GA. In fact, I currently live just a few miles down the road from it and I can tell you that it is an outstanding institution run by some of the best warriors and finest patriots in the US military. Yes, there were some bad people who attended SOA in years past (heck, even Qaddafi trained in the US), but overall the school has played a major role in promoting and ensuring liberty in the Americas. I'm not sure what Graeme's beef is with the shotgun. We used it with great effect in Vietnam and we're using it today in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the kind of close-in fighting one encounters in an urban battlespace, there is no more effective weapon than a shotgun. I'll close this post by saying that I understand it has been fashionable for some time in various parts of the world for people to hate the US. But I think this is changing (and I think that recent conservative victories in Germany and France bear this out). I know in my heart that some day, the people of the world will look back on our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and see that what we did there was good and just. God bless our President and our fine warriors currently serving in combat. God bless the United States of America.

Max Kaehn refers to natural selection in response to asking Is warmongering/gullibility in our DNA?. I agree with Mr. Kaehn that natural selection is the force at work here. We are selected to strive as individuals and as groups. We are designed to be suspicious of (and aggressive towards) people we regard as other and loyal towards people of our own kin and clan.

We have the ability to reason, at least some of us do, but we dont always use it. I agree that teaching children reasoning, evidence-based thinking and critical thinking skills as early as primary school is a start in social evolution beyond preemptive, interminable war and exploitation of the many by the few.

I sadly agree with nallcando who understands how easy it is to lead a person astray with lies or fear or whatever And I agree when he states, I feel that the media has let down the American people by not investing the money for real investigative reporting.

What I see is the supposed watchdog (the media,) performing instead as the lapdog of corporate and private interests. The media largely fails to investigate, report fairly, and provide context, about news like election fraud or like when the, the US government is acting as the military arm of the corporate sector. As A. Carroll observes. The reasoning person must be able to somehow evaluate information and sort out liars. They must also transcend the urge to believe a lie, even when shown the truth, as nallcando remarks.

For example, Rick thinks the president couldn't possibly have known that the WMD stockpiles were non-existent. Everyone thought Saddam had WMD. This is not true; Scott Ritter said so, made a movie about it, and many other informed people questioned the so-called pre-war intelligence. But the mainstream media favored the pro war stance and reported from that bias almost exclusively in the weeks leading to the invasion (and since.)

Rick rephrases the question; Is there something in our DNA that loves freedom and wants to spread the kind of liberty and freedom enjoyed by the citizens of the most humane democracy that has ever existed (the USA)? Its a good thing he answers his own question The USA because I wasnt sure who he was talking about.

"Bush will be rememberd as..."


_IF_ Hitler and his cronies had won WW2 then I am sure the history booke would equally laud him as THE saviour of the planet - all people in their 'right places' and under the rule of one, single authority. Does not mean it would be true, though - does it? History is written by the winners of wars... so it always speaks in favour of victory.

Bush's grandfather was Hitler's banker, wasn't he? Funny, that. And his dad was the head of the CIA during a couple of pretty big scandals dealing with flagrant disregard of international ( as well as your own ) laws.... right?

The use of shotguns in Vietnam... EVERYTHING to do with Guantanamo Bay... 'War Crimes' all.

And that comment about " the most humane democracy that has ever existed (the USA) " is such utter tripe that it scarcely deserves comment. You intentionally infected black men - with their consent but not knowledge - with a terminal, degenerative disease back in the 60's " just to see what it does ". You backed the 'Freedom fighters ' in Afghanistan when they fought to get the Russians out of their country, then rolled in and killed them all when they decided to stand up to YOU decades later! Contra Rebels, Guns for Drugs, hell let's go back all the way to " FIFTY OR FIGHT! " Your empire has NEVER been kind or just. Your 'AID' programmes to 3rd world countries just serve to maintain your stranglehold on them by undercutting the local farmers trying to restart the local economies by providing them with 'FREE' food!

"School of the Americas".. ever been THERE soldier boy?

Bush is a greedy little child who has never developed an ounce of human dignity and the whole world ( Bush fanatics excused by notes from their parents ) laments his coming.

He WILL be rememebred... but it is the hope of millions that it will only be as ' The worst mistake the United States of America's people EVER made... and the turning point in their history to being REALLY true to their founding aspirations. '

He never really WON either election anyway... so he'll be the 'bandit king' at best when all is said and done.

As a quick aside: I am saddened that the proud and just of the world warriors have been so led astray by a liar, a cheat and a thief. Just look at his personal business history to see that info in spades!

Is there something in our DNA that loves freedom and wants to spread the kind of liberty and freedom enjoyed by the citizens of the most humane democracy that has ever existed (the USA)? Yes, I believe that's true. As a military member, I believe that what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is absolutely the right thing to do. We liberated two countries that have never known freedom and created democracies where before they never existed. As far as the accusation about "fixing" intelligence and lying to Congress, Mr. Moyers is certainly aware that that is not true. Sure, the CIA didn't get it right, but neither did French, British, or Russian intelligence agencies. As much as I admire the President, I'm sure he's not clairvoyant. He couldn't possibly have known that the WMD stockpiles were non-existent. Everyone thought Saddam had WMD. Also, Mr. Moyers seems be forgetting that there were a number of other very valid reasons for invading Iraq. Take, Iraq's support of terrorism for example. Why do people ignore the fact that two of the most notorious terrorists in history, Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas, both lived in Iraq and were supported by the Iraqi government? Or the fact that Saddam paid the families of Palestinian homicide bombers $25,000 a pop? Has Mr. Moyers ever even mentioned these things on his show? Probably not, because they would be "inconvenient truths." I won't even get into all of the gross human rights violations and tens of thousands of innocents slaughtered under the Saddam regime. Suffice it to say that we will be victorious in Iraq and Afghanistan and, in five or ten years when both of those countries are at peace and democratic, George W. Bush will be a hero and will be considered a truly great president.

DNA? As in Despicable Narcissistic Avarice, perhaps? This seems present always, at the top. We the People have no real say. If there were a referendum on whether we should get the freak out of Iraq tomorrow (or if there'd been one on leaving Vietnam in, say, '68), who can doubt the result? But those in charge would rather pick our pockets for as long as they can. War's the biggest business of them all.

As I have read and viewed history through several generations of family stories and wars I believe as I watch three of my six sons join the USA Navy that mankind throughout all this world are too dependant on politisians who worry more about votes than voters be it USA or any other country. We are one spiecie on one world and we live in one global warming or cooling, we must learn to live as one or we will die as one even those of us who through the bible, koran or any such faith doctrin know there is more to life and death than science and ecconomy allows. We look to the stars in hope for something, someone better than we believe we are yet we are bound by political and financile barriars not to seek what we must; a new world for we are bound to destroy this one Earth if we do not stop (and that is last week not tomorrow), our way of miss trust and self centered way of life. Your neighbors and fellow humans, family is everyone in your sight and those you cannot see but who share this planet (that with technology is in time and space, due to travel oppertunities) is growing ever smaller and with our birth rate will be overrun sooner than our social and religious laws will allow to control. I pray to every known and forgotten name of a god there be, that we humans are ment to be worthy of more than the dinosaur and we will suvive to be all the scifi books, movies and tv had faith that we were worthy of. As a child of the 60's I truely expected more of humanity than this by now but then I never believed it would be the lawers, bankers, politicians, or religious leaders that would lead the way. I belive the everyday people who believe in having and raising their children in the traditions of their family are who will and who always have made the difference. Teach your children well for they alone will take forth your bigotry, loyalty, hipocracy, faith and vission for the survival of humanity. We are one world, one people.

WWll broke the British empire and Iraq will break our place in the world.

Yes, there is something about our Republican DNA that is attracts profiting from exploitation of opportunities of the weak minded and less fortunate by dangling the perverbial "carrot" of freedom and prosperity through "occupation and manipulation" of the masses for their own selfish personal gains to the detriment of the American standard of living.

War has always brought prosperity to the money changers, but never to the masses.

In May 1946 Albert Einstein said: "The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe".

GW Bush had 3 things going against good thinking, he didn't have to.

The Religious Right anointed him.
The Congress gave him a free ride without oversight.
The Talk Radio provided the cheerleading.

All this could have been overcome if the press had asked hard questions and followed up with real reporting.

Is it in our DNA? No, but what leads us to consider wars as strategies for resolving conflicts or disagreements is that we've learned to judge others by applying labels to them. Often, these labels have lead us to think of others as enemies with whom we have nothing in common instead of as human beings who have the same feelings, needs, hopes, and dreams. The biggest challenge we face is to move away from labels altogether, labels such as Republican/Democrat, black/white, straight/gay, rich/poor, and ultimately good/bad--so that we can see others as ourselves. When we do that, we'll have no more conflicts or wars.

Going to war is easier than trying to solve problems that you don't understand. That involves an act of creation. War is easier, especially for those who don't get involved in it. Could it be DNA? Might be, but don't forget the archetypes that we all carry beneath us. They may be far more important than DNA. War is a powerful American archetype. Of course the war you fight is never the war you enter into. Thanks for your program and for the blog. John.

I think that most Americans are so busy working so many hours a day, to keep their head above water, that they rely on local news media to stay informed. It takes me many hours of the day reading different online papers, books from the library, magazines like The Nation and Time as well as online blogs, to have a better understanding of what is going on in the World, much less the US. I am lucky that I work for myself and have no children to raise. I think that most Americans feel powerless against Government and they have a willing to believe in the person they voted for. I feel that the media has let down the American people by not investing the money for real investigative reporting. The news today is a repeat of stories taken for other newspapers. I see very few real questions being asked by reporters. I do not believe that it is in our DNA to follow someone blindly at lest not in my DNA. I do believe that some people are followers with out question, especially when stirred with Religion, money or power. On one level I understand how easy it is to lead a person astray with lies or fear or whatever but I do not understand how one can still believe a lie, even when shown the truth. So maybe it is in our DNA. PT Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute." George Santayana said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

DNA, no. In 2007, it is in the money flowing into the pockets of the slime that are PROFITING from this slaughter! Never fear, the bill will be presented when enough brave souls call a spade a spade!

Texas DNA perhaps. No offence Bill, but I am unlikely to vote for another Texan for president, youself excepted.

Once started, and fed by blood and bone and treasure, then it is not DNA. It is political pride. It is near impossible for anyone to rationalize Themselves, having caused sensless killing and death.

A million poeple were killed, and you know this well, between when the majority of Americans decided to quit Viet Nam and when we actually left.

Uncommon honesty is now required. What will the count be this time? ---ask this Viet Nam era vet.

Ought not a declaration of war be renewed with each new congress? Or is war so informal we just assume it.

The reason that this administraton can get away with UNfair trade agreements like NAFTA that aid corporations at the expense of workers and consumers both in the US and abroad, is that the public does not understand these deals, and the mass media, with the exception of Bill Moyers and the undreground press, is owned and controlled by big business to keep the public ignorant. We do not therefore enjoy a real democracy with an enlightened electorate in this country.

Most certainly DNA is the beginning of it. DNA is what builds us and what builds in us the strengths and weaknesses that then play out in our behavior. Anytime we go to war it is the fault of lazy thinking. Thinking is hard and our fears more often than is comfortable to admit win out over reason. Among the Earth's species, we seem to be the leading edge in the evolution of rational reasoning. We're good, but we have a long way to go in that regard. We still respond to situations far more frequently through irrational fear than we seem able to respond after clear and calm reflection. DNA is at the root of our ability to reason but it is also at the root of our laziness. We're growing up, but not yet matured.

I don't think it's our DNA per se, but fear has been a motivating factor on both occasions Mr. Moyers mentions. Vietnam had the fear of allowing Communism to spread and infect the world. It imploded out of its own inherent flaws in time, but to an extent lives on in the American far Left (mind you that's not the Democratic Party, but more the academic elites). With Iraq the fear was that terrorism would spread and Americans would have to worry about suicide bombers and much worse - mushroom clouds over our cities.

That fear of mass-scale death at the hands of extremists is still very real. But the problem was we went after someone who, although a lousy human being by most standards, wasn't on the verge of nuking us.

I guess after the legitimate invasion into Afghanistan to get those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the administration figured there was a shot to get rid of Saddam.

Now, I don't know if Bush really didn't have a clue that his information was worthless, or if he had an urge to get rid of Saddam, something his father was lambasted for not doing back in the first Gulf War.

But sadly, Iraq was predicated on a lie. And as much as I'd love to have our troops out of there, we've made a mess of the place and if we don't do something to stabilize the region and help those poor people stuck in the middle of a civil war, we're going to have a lot more angry Middle Eastern men who want to do harm to us in a few years. And God help us if those angry men get their hands on those weapons we've been looking for.

Bill Moyers,
I'm pleased to have you back on PBS. Oh wait a minute,where are you? Only on Sundays at 3pm? I'm disappointed in GPB (for not having you on Friday nights)and PBS( for not having you on at all)in the Atlanta Georgia and surrounding areas.Hope things will change soon and thank You Ms. Internet.

Dear Mr Bill Moyer
I am so so glad you are back.

I wish you were a candidate for 08. we need an intelligent, patient, cool headed person with integrity like you. please think about

you will have my vote and million others

DNA? Certainly. I no longer believe that we are some special breed of being brought out of the biological soup. We are somewhat more evolved simians with either a chimp or bonobo conducting our actions when the medulla oblongata is activated by civic or religious leaders. As has been said previously, with training in reasoning at a young age, we MAY be more inclined to study the possible consequences of our actions, but with my experience as a young infantry veteran in Vietnam in 1971, I'm not sure that many of the wisest among would not, and do not fall victim to our basest instincts. I've seen little to convince me of humankind's ability to understand consequences in the last 36 years. I taught my daughter's to observe their fellow humans with this in mind.
How they use my understanding of reality is up to them. So far they are intelligent, thoughtful, and loving women. That all children should receive a skeptical, but hopeful view of humanity, might go a long way to reduce the negatives "inherent" within our animal brain. Will our societies allow such an education? So far, not likely.

When will Mr. Moyers break his deafening silence on E. Howard Hunt's deathbed confession of his (Hunt's) and LBJ's role in the JFK assassination, coup d'etat and coverup? What does Mr. Moyers have to say about his own role during this period, what he knew or suspected, and why we should trust him today?

Rather than looking at individual psychology, it might be more useful to look at systems and the environment, because organisms respond to their environmental conditions.

The environment we live in today is uber-capitalism, with uber-national organizations led by non-elected policy-makers dictating social and economic policy for nations (WTO, World Bank, IMF). The financial services industry is running the world, taking over other industries with different missions than theirs, with currency traders speculating on their own nation's currency, with the singular goal of sucking out private profits, not creating products or services that enrich a nation's standard of living (example: Chrysler being bought by a private equity company, although I have no sympathy for Chrysler, since we--the taxpayers--bailed them out once before). We are witnessing the worldwide decline of democracy and democratic decision-making (in spite of the neocon propaganda). Here is what the CEO of German multi-national corporation Siemens, Klaus Kleinfeld, said at a Wharton Business School lecture in 2006: "Business needs to do the explaining more than ever before. If we don't, in a democracy, things swing according to what the common man thinks--and that's scary." ( Probably no one at Wharton even saw anything wrong with this statement as policy.

As ever, the US government is acting as the military arm of the corporate sector. The Rockefellers called out the US Army who killed striking copper miners. We sent the Marines to protect US corporations in Latin American countries in the 1950's and 1960's. Democratically-elected national leaders have been assasinated by the CIA if they were not capitalists (Allende, etc.).

As Kleinfeld says, business needs to explain what economic and social policy should be, because the "common man" should not be permitted to decide for himself how he wants to live his life. With the government as its military arm, it's no wonder that the government's explanations are "fixed to support the policy," as Bill says.

"...And in the Hellenic states that were governed by tyrants, the
tyrant’s first thought was always for himself, for his own personal
safety, and for the greatness of his own family. Consequently, security was the chief political principle in these governments, and
no great action ever came out of them..."
(History of the Pelopenesian War, Book 1; by Thucydides.) 380 BCE!!!
This distance of time and the immediate relevance of Thucydides words, could imply that DNA plays a roll. However, if there was a gene for stupidity, lying, greediness and baseless hubris, would it not benefit us to test G.W. Bush? If such a gene exists, everyone in this administration has it and they should be required to call out "unclean" as they pass through town!

DNA? Perhaps. Inhabitants of many other species seem to be born with certain drives and fears.

Have money and fear been DNA-driven aspects of our susceptibility to the politics of this century?

Deep down inside, probably...

I think there is something in the cultural DNA of a subset of Americans that often leads us to formulate force= will= "credibility." It's a phenomenon masterfully explained by Anatol Lieven in America Right or Wrong, Andrew Bacevich (who tragically just lost a son in Iraq) in The New American Militarism, and Bob Altemeyer in The Authoritarians.

It's a regressive strain (in both senses), but it comes to the fore in times of crisis. It's incredibly powerful, because it's carriers are politically cohesive, Manichean and dogmatic - the perfect constituency.

Most thinking is not critical and rational, it is, in George Soros's term--reflexive-- that is, we have a hunch, we look for evidence to support it, we use that evidence to more definitively hone our viewpoint, we act on that hunch and when we do we sift through the consequences of our acts to find further reinforcement that we were correct after all. Condi maybe a very high IQ person but she is caught in that reflexive circle. Being in a position of power where no one challenges or says, " I don't think you right about this." further isolates. To admit error is to fall from power and give it up to another reflexive circle. From the outside we can see how flawed this process is, but it is the essence of political thinking. When does a political leader ever admit fault and hold onto power? Isn't it always the prophet who has to chastise the king.

yes.. there is something in our DNA.
It is that something that creates our susceptibility to the influences of suggestion, our unconscious willingness-to-believe. (especially in parent/teacher/authority figures)

We can never rid ourselves of this openess to first consider the sugestion and then become affected by it in some way.

Consciousness combined with a natural-born scepticism and critical thinking is our best defense against suggestion and the resulting "herd instinct" that propels us along our sometimes not so merry way.

Forty years ago at college, I took a propoganda techniques course. The big lie, begging the question etc., yet I must admit that my mind set still gets in the way of my rationality. I would rather believe people (leaders) who say what I feel is correct, then dissect what they say or don't say in a logical way. The converse is true for those I don't like. Human nature goes a long way to creating our problems. As an old sage once said; Of all the things you can keep someone away from, you can't keep them away from themself.

> "Is there something in our DNA?"

I'm not sure about our _DNA_, but certainly in our psychological makeup (which I'm sure certain elements are transferred by DNA).

We're built to survive - if the populace is convinced that our survival is threatened by pulling out of Iraq, we will support whatever the administration tell us to.

The 'domino' tactic is just a way of unleashing that fear in the citizens mind. We _want_ to believe that our elected leader is looking out for our best interests at one level or another.

So, to sum up, it doesn't seem to be genetics, just plain old psychological manipulation from the ruling elite to the populace.

Remember the 'mushroom cloud' statements? Same business.

I'm with Max - start teaching logic to children so they will be better prepared for dealing with their irresponsible elected officials.

Violence is not a part of our DNA. It is however a significant element in how we socialize our populace.

"Is there something in our DNA?"

I ask a question in return. Is it in our DNA that we must have a "we" and a "they"? For as long as this planet is divided into "us" and "them", there will be no peace and no true prosperity. The profiteers (political, economic, and religious) will continue to play on "us", and demonize and excoriate "them" in their attempts to maximize - be it for power, profit, or influence.

We're suckers for boosters, spin, ad copy, and bald faced lies artfully and cleverly told. We learn American history that way: 54 40 or fight, Remember the Maine, Axis of Evil. If it's not in our DNA at birth, it's certainly introduced into our system at a very young age.

Where's the beef?

What, me worry?

Certainly. We're the result of tens of thousands of years of natural selection for functioning as hunter-gatherers whose long-range planning needs to encompass one turn of the seasons and a tribe of up to 150 people. We're desperately trying to catch up to our need to think about a planet with a population of 6 billion, problems with roots that go back for centuries, and mistakes that could have repercussions that last centuries. The habits of mind that promote survival in the wild-- habits that manifest with our poor ability to estimate actual risk, our tendency to fall for emotional arguments, and to suffer from confirmation bias when evaluating data-- have big gaping flaws in the complex world we've created.

Anyone with education experience want to hazard a guess as to how young you could pitch a course in recognizing logical fallacies? Do we have any chance of teaching children these kinds of critical thinking skills in primary school? Putting reasoning in the basic curriculum as a fourth R to match reading, writing, and arithmetic is the only way I can see to get out of this in the long term.

I came of age during the Vietnam fiasco. I was a wife who waited out my year of sweaty-palmed anxiety while my new husband served all of 1968 in Chu Lai. I was opposed to the war then, just as I am opposed to a like-war with far worse "unintended consequences" today. I watched this paricular program of yours, at once both mesmerized and horrified by how little we have learned in 50 years.

DNA? No. It's the arrogance of both leadership and the general public. We make assumptions about every other culture despite our ignorance of who they are, what they believe. We assume every nation on earth should be a mini-version of the United States. Worse, we assume every person in every other nation, every other culture, yearns to be just like we are.

It's a tragic combination of arrogance and ignorance of both history and geography. Most of us--including this president--can no more put an accurate, identifying finger on any other country on the globe than we can offer up a solution to getting out of Iraq without accepting responsibility for what we have done, what will follow.

Other countries? We don't know where they are, much less who they are. And, sadly, too many of us don't care. We are too easily led by anyone who promises us an easy, uninterrupted idyll of life as we know it, no matter who pays the cost.

IMHO, I think it has less to do with our DNA than with how much money can be made when the US goes to war.

If I recall, Eisenhower warned of the "Military Industrial Complex" in a farewell speech. I am afraid he was exactly right and we are all paying for our unwillingness or perhaps inability to have slowed it down. I also seem to recall that he truncated his original warning of the "Military Industrial Congressional Complex"; so how effective can we be lobbying Congress?

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