Magazine article Tikkun

Robert Thurman: Eleven Pieces of Advice

Magazine article Tikkun

Robert Thurman: Eleven Pieces of Advice

Article excerpt


Listen to but don't follow the "experts" who got us into these messes. You are employing a lot of them in your noble and skillful "team of rivals" administration, but they must quickly see your light and turn around to use their skills for your no-nonsense realistic agenda, not be allowed to co-opt you into business as usual. Your strength comes from the millions of previously disaffected but intelligent and now enthusiastically engaged people, and you must not lose them by conceding to wrongly framed notions of "pragmatism." I am offering eleven pieces of advice for you to consider at this moment. They are not all in a particular order of priority, since I am urging you to present them as objectives and make steps toward them right away, all at once.

1. Restore the media to its essential role, which it must fulfill to enable you to get your job done. To do this, you can revive the FCC to reinforce rules and break up monopolistic ownership of media outlets, restore the fairness doctrine (making licenses contingent on presenting opposing viewpoints), and energetically expand funding for PBS and world news.

2. Get out of Iraq ASAP. That is not "surrender" but "victory." It is the victory of honesty and courage over stupidity and criminality. The point to be made is that this was an illegal invasion, and the doctrine of preemptive war is an illegal doctrine on the face of it. Encourage prosecution of Cheney and his neocon cronies who lied us into the war if they start to make too much noise.

3. Close the Guantánamo prison and make all forms of torture illegal once again, re-affirming the Geneva Conventions. Save the facility to be made over into a rehabilitation center for ex-dictators, like a high-end resort with serious therapy and sensitivity training. Be ready to give it back to Cuba if its leaders decide to behave in a more friendly way in the near future- this will involve them making reparations to the formerly wealthy Cuban families they expropriated long ago.

4. In Afghanistan, immediately call a regional conference of all parties. Shift some troops over from Iraq, but don't send a lot of troops there. The big problem lies in Pakistan. Its Inter-Services Intelligence agency endangers everyone and fools no one except our previous leaders and some of our military. Buy all the Afghan farmers' and warlords' opium crops, and sell them to producers of anesthetics.

5. Make a new environmental treaty and put Al Gore in charge of making "no more carbon dioxide emissions within ten years" into a national goal, like putting a man on the moon. He can also be in charge of heading up a technocratic team of designers, engineers, and green researchers to forge a plan and get to work converting Detroit- with companies and unions working together as they do in Germany- into the world Mecca for electric cars. We should also produce our own high-speed rail cars and equipment, inviting foreign manufacturers to participate.

6. Go Keynesian! FDR-ian, if you prefer. Don't let the shamelessly wasteful and mendacious big-government Republicans fool you into forced economic austerity when the people need their share of the money now. They have printed it madly for war and socialist bailouts for the rich- you must now print it yourself for the people: to rebuild the infrastructure and the middle class, health, education, and welfare. …

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