Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Ring of Power

I have just seen the third installment in the sensational movie trilogy, "The Lord of the Rings", and I've been tossing on my bed because an insight is germinating in my mind. Of course, the pomp and grandeur of this film trilogy is unsurpassed. For this reason, I am placing it side by side with the Godfather series as my favorite movie series of all time. And probably, I am going to concede that it is my number one by a huge distance to the Godfather, because it has made me think.

I am thinking of the "Ring of Power" -- the one ring to rule them all. This is the heart of the adventure that sends the Fellowship of the Ring in its quest to destroy the ring by casting it in the fires of Mt. Doom. The idea is no one should possess the absolute power bestowed to the ring bearer because no one is capable of using absolute power for the good of all Middle Earth.

I've been thinking that if there is a ring bearer in real life reflecting the metaphor of the book, it has to be that jerk of a man they call Dubya. It gives you the shivers down your spine, doesn't it?

An uncle from the abroad asked how I would react to this essay. The writer appears to be a History professor out of Syracuse University who specializes in the Spanish-American transition in the Philippines. The writer makes a case for American Power. In so many words, he argues that America could be trusted to wield its enormous power because if it doesn't others which are far less trustworthy would rule the world.

And I go back to the proposition of the Lord of the Rings -- the ring of power should be destroyed because nobody, even benevolent America, could be trusted enough to possess it. And I search for that reason why the proposition has to be so. It brings me to Socrates and Plato who taught us the fundamental human condition -- "We know we do not know." We cannot know. The proposition for absolute power can only work with absolute knowledge. Good intentions are not enough. The bearer of absolute power must have absolute knowledge. The wielder of absolute power would be able to achieve what is good for all only if he is in the position to make no mistakes. And mistakes are brought about by flawed knowledge or in military parlance -- flawed intelligence.

In the context of the exercise of military power, the greatest military intelligence network, the CIA, for instance, has committed big mistakes which have caused the loss of the lives of millions. In Saddam's case, for example, the intelligence report on his weapons of mass destruction appear to be false, misleading or even fabricated. Yet the US exercising "absolute power", setting aside the position of major allies like France and other members of the Security Council, decided to go for broke on Saddam, destroying the country and trampling upon the rights of the sovereign people to determine their future. And all this for nothing. The guy turned out to be incapable of manufacturing those so-called weapons. Sure, the world is better without Saddam in Iraq, but Dubya could have done it to Gloria Arroyo and the Philippines, and it wouldn't have made a difference. Who could have stopped Dubya if he built the same case against Gloria as the perpetrator of 9/11? Colin Powell and his powerpoint galore could bring down any sitting president at will -- and notwithstanding conscientious objectors in the midst.

Absolute power without absolute knowledge is like a bazooka on the shoulders of a blind man in a world where everyone else is blind.

Tolkien is right. The best of this world is not good enough for the ring -- the hobbits, the elves, the dwarves, the wizards, the men, and most especially, the jerks. The ring must be destroyed.


Others have this to say:

1. Todd Setimo

2. James Pinkerton


4. Blogs for Bush

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