May 12, 2003
"Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people's countries."
I liked the American Republic. I grew up as a citizen of the United States of America -- a Republic -- and my loyalties are there. I dislike the idea that the Republic is dead and that my country has become an Empire.
The mistake the world made was believing that the American leadership were benign. This belief gulled them into pursuing other aspects of their cultures, such as health care and education, rather than trying to keep up with the arms race. After all, the United States protected the world from totalitarianism, so why wouldn't it continue to be a helpful society in the continuing progress of the world?
As an attorney-friend of mine once asked: "How old are you? Do you know what is happening, or not?" He was accusing me of being a fool in my relationships with women. Of course he was right. His question was so blunt that it made me laugh. Well, the world has been foolish, too. There has been too much misplaced trust and devotion toward the United States of America. No more.
The unilateralism of the Bush II Administration put that fantasy to an end. It must have been a shock for the world to find that the old system of alliances and diplomacy -- including an imperfect, but still functioning UN -- would be thrown to the winds, all in the name of American hegemony. In effect, the Bush II administration said: "Our way, or the highway!" No more mister nice guy! Raw power was rammed down disbelieving throats. "You are either with us, or against us." In other words, "Like it or lump it."
Perhaps that is the price for being naïve about human nature, for believing that people -- singly, or collectively -- are better than they actually are. This caused many to construct arguments that would stand in an older time, but look foolish and "irrelevant" today. That was the word tossed at the UN by Colin Powell: "You're running the risk of becoming irrelevant," he said. Translation: "We're going to do what we wish, whether you like it or not, so jump on board, or be left behind and exposed as the joke you are."
Similar demands were made to the French and German governments. When they didn't acquiesce, these countries (and their cultures) were demonized. The demonization of things "French" should be an embarrassment to anyone with a brain. The fact that the Congressional cafeteria was pressured into changing the names of "French fries" and "French toast" to "Freedom fries" and "Freedom toast" says something that I always suspected about our legislators. Not only are they poltroons, they are stupid.
As of this writing, the Canadian government have* not recanted for failing to support our war against Iraq. Not only that. Now the Canadian government have said that they oppose an attack on Syria. Wow! Expect some form of intimidation and/or sanctions. Will "Canadian bacon" become "Freedom bacon?" Stay tuned.
As the Iraq war was initiated in spite of warnings from those powerless to stop it, there is little to say. The Iraq war, like it or not -- legal, or not -- was simply a fait accompli. The relatively quick conquest of a Third World country, although decimated by twelve years of sanctions and bombings, showed the world that they were dealing with a new America, proclaiming a "New World Order." The old order was as dead as the American Republic. Most Americans, flushed with an easy victory over Iraq, approve of the President's actions. It has not occurred to them that the Republic is gone, never to return, and that their leaders are loyal to the new Empire and not to them. Again, my attorney-friend's words come to mind: "How old are you?" Well, apparently not old enough.
Arguments against the Iraq war are now academic. It is not like unlike arguing against a proposed rape and then having the rape proceed anyway. The rapist might say, gun in hand, "Well what are you going to do about it?" Obviously, one cannot restore the victim to her prior status. If you have allowed your police powers to atrophy, there is little you can do in the face of naked aggression (no pun intended). In the absence of a savior, the victim has to cut a deal with the rapist on her own. Such is what is happening in Iraq. "Hey, Baby, roll over. I'm gonna make you happy."
But the fait accompli does not mean that one has to acquiesce to a red-herring argument put forth by the warmongers, such as: "Our quick victory proves that we are right and you are wrong." Or, "If you don't support our troops, you are a traitor." The argument against the war is that it was immoral and a crime against humanity, not that it couldn't have been won easily. Remind the warmongers that aggression against a country that does not pose a viable threat is a war crime. That issue was settled by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal and has been a part of international law since 1945. That is the issue, period. All other arguments are red-herrings, intended to distract and intimidate the opposition (especially questions of loyalty and patriotism).
Note the words of Justice Robert L. Jackson at Nuremberg:
We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy.
--Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Jackson, US Representative to the International Conference on Military Trials, August 12, 1945.
As the Australian journalist, John Pilger, noted: "The game is up." (1) The word is out about America. Innocence about American intentions has been lost and, like virginity, it cannot be restored. Whether or not Americans understand their new status in the world is moot. They will. Controlled US media spin will not be able to cover up the facts forever. We are now feared and hated by much of the world. Some of those fearing and hating us are former "old friends." A word to the wise is sufficient. You might think twice about your next trip to Nice, or Milan.
Americans are more profoundly divided at home than any time since the Civil War. It has become increasingly difficult to have civil discussions of American policy, whether in the work place, the community, or at social events. People are looking askance at their neighbors, who may have a different viewpoint. As University of Texas Professor, Robert Jensen, recently noted, many people have become isolated and fearful. (2) The Patriot Act and the sequel, "Patriot Act II," threaten to shred what's left of the Bill of Rights and crush domestic dissent. Should one doubt the danger, consider the Bush II Administration's disregard of the Geneva Convention, the UN, and formal agreements that stand in the way of their agenda -- such as treaties dealing with nuclear testing. The point is that a government that breaks international agreements can also break domestic ones. As the British author, V.S. Naipaul wrote:
I was nervous of getting involved, because a government that breaks its own laws can also easily break you. Your business associate today can be your jailer or worse tomorrow. (3)
Advice? Keep your eyes open and stand your ground! Cancel your European tour, stay home and do your homework. Avoid the Jingoes when possible, but don't back down if confronted. Remember that Jingoes are bullies who are cowards at heart. Like the Nazi SA and the American Ku Klux Klan, bullies like to intimidate defenseless people and carry out murderous deeds while part of an anonymous group. Remember also that through the darkness of the Nazi era, there were good Germans, like Konrad Adenauer and Willy Brandt, who would eventually come back to lead their country.
And finally, even though much of the population may be waving flags and "Sieg heiling," there are some good folks around.
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References and Resources
* I prefer the use of "have," instead of "has," to indicate that governments are made up of individuals (they) rather than being a "Godzilla" (it). I do realize the temptation to think of government as a Godzilla. (back)
1. Pilger, John. "The Game is Up." Hidden Agendas, The films and writings of John Pilger, March 27, 2003. (back)
2. Jensen, Robert. "Confronting Our Fears So We Can Confront the Empire," Commondreams.org, March 18 2003. (back)
3. Naipaul, V.S. A Bend in the River, Vintage Books, New York, 1980, p. 92. (back)
Iraq on Swans
Richard Macintosh was a Public High School Teacher in California (1956-1989). Ed.D, Educational Leadership, BYU, 1996. MA, Liberal Studies, Wesleyan University, 1982. BA, history, Stanford University, 1956... Macintosh is currently a part-time consultant on Personnel/Team matters in Washington State.
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