“Remember the Maine!” The American ship blew up in Havana harbor in 1898, touching off our first foreign war. No one would hear the Spanish pleas of innocence. Many years later, underwater researchers found that coal dust in the boiler room had ignited. There was no Spanish attack.
What good did that war do? Not too difficult to figure out if you look at Cuba today.
A century ago, the yellow journalists of their day had already shown our leaders how easy it is to provoke the American people on cue into a fury of belligerence, how to play on their emotions until they reach fever pitch.
The lesson was never lost on our ruling elites, but each generation of Americans has completely forgotten it.
In 1917, the war party was able to incite American bloodlust with a mere scrap of paper, a ridiculous telegram intercepted from the Germans. What good did that war do? It spawned Bolshevism, Fascism, Nazism and set the stage for the mass murders of W W II. So what? The war party achieved their aims of American military hegemony.
In 1941, while a thousand enemy ships sailed on our main fleet in Pearl Harbor, our vigilant security apparatus was able to sleep soundly, lest they somehow spoil the perfect provocation for a sequel to the First War the nation was still too tired to repeat.
This week, our security apparatchiks had foreign hijackers on their watch list – and they did just that. They watched as the young pilots took flight training and boarded Boeing 767’s, and never lifted a finger. Did someone not want to interfere with guerrillas who were preparing the perfect provocation on a silver platter for the war party’s next outing?
How often do we have to be fooled before we get wise?
Within a couple days, before we even know who was behind it, before we can even stop to think and ask questions, before the government even mentions a plan of attack, Congress gives an inexperienced President carte-blanche to “rid the world of evil”. Indeed. Jesus Christ Himself never made such promises. OK, speechwriting must be a hard slog. The slogan, “make the world safe for democracy” had already been copyrighted by a Democrat, and even misused to create the world a seedbed for totalitarianism. But my information is that people who want to go all out to rid the world of evil are generally the biggest nuisance and most dangerous evil this old world knows.
Nothing good can come of the kind of war the administration seems to be leaning towards. I haven’t heard a word about supporting the democratic forces in Afghanistan under Ahmed Shah Mahsoud, arch-enemy of the Taliban and veteran of many victorious battles against the Russians. Odd. We have always picked a proxy, for better or worse, in Angola, in Vietnam, in Palestine, and we even pretend to have some Iraqi dissidents working with us (though any Iraqi who works with the US must be poison to his own people by now.) Masoud is a potential ally who was nearly killed by suicide bombers himself this week, and who probably needs us. There must be many other potential allies in Afghanistan who have no use for the Taliban. This is such an obvious solution, with so much constructive potential, and there seems to be no interest in it. We seem to be geared to something between Gulf War II and WW III, some kind of mass destruction.
Our officials talk about bringing down states, they say, who isn’t with us is against us, in short, an American Jihad! Whose agenda is this?
We have never really stopped subverting regimes in the good old messy CIA tradition, and that has never stopped screwing up the regions we interfere in. Who benefits from a weak, dictatorial, corrupt Middle Eastern and is afraid of a strong, democratic one? Maybe Israel or Russia, but instability is not at all in America’s interest.
Then why do we topple one government after another? Because any democratic, popular government in the Middle East will push hard for justice in Palestine – and America is bound by political debts to maintain and support the towering injustice of expulsion, expropriation, occupation and oppression that stamped an Israel on the map there. The entire blame for the Mideast mess, including this week’s bombings, lies squarely at the door of the American Zionist lobby. Their influence is the impenetrable barrier to any fair solution or acceptable compromise for the refugee, really rightful owners of that country.
So our “solution” to the continual rebirth of movements for democracy and justice is continual abortions by the scalpel of the CIA. But can this go on forever?
Israeli has been losing the media war since the Al Aqsa Intifada. Yet Bush has met Sharon a couple times, and refused to see Arafat. Has America written off Palestine, or perhaps Sharon had a little advice. Let a terror attack through as a perfect way to get sympathetic Westerners see things from Israel’s frontline viewpoint.
Although extremists on both sides wanted this to happen, the bottom line on the Boeing Bombings is that time is running out for the US-Israeli side. And the message of another Mideast invasion by American ground troops will be the same as Vietnam, or the Russian defeat in Afghanistan. Whoever masterminded this bombing wants to entrap the US in a horrible quagmire, to inflame the Islamic world against us further and accelerate the inevitable collapse of the US-Israeli house of cards. This trap is definitely not in our interest. Political courage is, as Wm. Pfaff stated in the IHT this week. We may even build bridges to the Muslim world on the sympathy the attack generated, if we do not repeat the mistake of punishing the innocent.
Call the attackers terrorists or guerrillas, it changes nothing, but we have already lost one guerrilla war in Vietnam. Even the VC were never able to inflict this kind of damage on our own terrain, and before we even knew we were in a conflict! The tempo of change is against us, it favors guerrilla fighters. What happens if, instead of thousands of gallons of kerosene, future militants ignite nuclear car-bombs in our downtowns? The ingredients are on the black market already. Forget Star Wars and get ready for Car Wars!
Common folks like us have no concrete bunkers. But technical progress is a great leveler. In an urban nuclear guerrilla war, Presidents will not get any early warning either.
We could retaliate militarily now in three ways: by bombing, with our own ground troops, or by getting others to fight for us. It seems to be understood that bombing would be counterproductive – we will kill potential friends and leave enemies unscathed. Unfortunately, as Vietnam and Afghanistan showed, this can also happen with our own troops, and it will be unpopularly bloody at home. Send allied troops? This is not Kuwait, and the alliance that formed to defeat Iraq has been replaced by widespread anger and resentment at the fate of the Iraqi people. We would simply further destabilize any government friendly enough to help.
The anger since the last Intifada has created a situation our expeditionary forces have never been in before. We have always expected a lot of people on the ground would cheer our boys as a liberating force, but America is widely unpopular in this region now. Our only chance seems to be sincere about securing justice, peace and democracy, our best ideals, for everyone in the Middle East. Anything but our highest moral high ground will be an indefensible position in the battle for Islam’s hearts and minds.
The Bible tells us, make peace with thine adversary before he brings you to the judge. We have been charged with underwriting the rape and robbery of Palestine, and the subversion of governments and continents. We have been penalized for it this week. If we do not make the peace with those we have wronged, if we only retaliate and do nothing about our own trespasses, the punishment is likely to be far bloodier.
Mr. John-Paul Leonard is a free-lance writer and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN)