America has done some things in its past of which I am not proud. It has done many more things, in my judgment, that merit praise.
By Dr. Alan Sabrosky*
Monday, 25 May 2009
Memorial Day in the United States is a time for remembrance and reflection. We think of those who have served in our wars, remember in particular those who have died, and hold in our hearts the memories of those whose service and sacrifice have allowed Americans to celebrate our own lives.
This is as it should be, and most countries have similar holidays. Yet in the world in which we live, and whose conflicts are so much a part of our lives, we also need to look hard not only at our warriors, but also at our war-makers: those whose decisions send them into battle.
For our warriors in uniform today, I have only praise. I do not support our current wars, and I understand that now as always there are rogues in uniform. But the great majority of our uniformed military personnel are exceptionally well-educated, exceptionally physically fit, and exceptionally committed to their service, whatever their branch, rank, race or gender. Indeed, having served in Vietnam in the Marines, I envy them. Justification for our current wars aside, they enjoy a measure of open, enthusiastic support from the American citizenry that I and my generation never had in our war. And their deaths are mourned openly in a way that never happened during the Vietnam War. I do not begrudge the current generation of service personnel that support. But in my heart of hearts, I would have given anything to have had even a small measure of it in my war, in my day.
The continuing tragedy, however, is that the appointed civilian leadership in the Defense department is even worse now than it was then, combining ignorance and incompetence with a predisposition to take America to war for the interests of a foreign country: Israel. The ignorance and incompetence are crucial, and it is by no means something new. For some odd reason, our political system increasingly has seen fit to put people in important positions, such as Secretary of Defense and the service secretaries and their subordinates, with little or no military experience themselves, and usually no expertise in military affairs. If Americans want to see the result of their handiwork, they need only note that Arlington National Cemetery and our other National Military Cemeteries are choked with the bodies of Americans in uniform who died needlessly because of the ignorance, amateurishness or outright incompetence of their elected and appointed civilian leaders. And if anyone doubts this, the next time someone you love requires emergency surgery, demand that the procedure be performed by the hospital's administrators, accountants and attorneys -- you'll doubtless be as pleased with the outcome as Americans in uniform have been with what has passed for their civilian leadership.
Going to war for reasons that have nothing to do with America's national interest is nothing new. Presidents and their advisors almost habitually bungle things, perhaps because the qualities required to get into office here have so little to do with the qualities required to govern effectively. Lincoln's bungling created a brutal civil war that adroitness might have averted. War with Spain was a result of a surge of corporate imperialism. Entry in the First World War was a catastrophic error in judgment, not least of which because it laid the groundwork for the Second World War -- where, after all, would have been the place of a Hitler in a German Empire?
But it is the influence of appointed officials in the Defence department and elsewhere in the US Government, aided and abetted by a thoroughly bought and compromised Congress, pushing Israel's agenda that is today our concern, and it has not abated in the slightest with the advent of the Obama administration. It is a phenomenon so difficult to confront, simply because money and mainstream media influence effectively control the high ground of the issue. What is clear to me, and to anyone who critically examines the evidence and chronology of events, is that America’s warriors have died as instruments of those who serve Israel’s interests first and foremost, in the 9/11 tragedy, in Afghanistan and in Iraq – and, if they have their way, in Iran and then Syria, thus completing the destruction of Israel’s closest ring of outside enemies. Phantom weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq have been replaced by a supposed existential nuclear threat from Iran, as if one or two crude nuclear weapons in Iran’s possession years from now (if at all) would somehow offset several hundred nuclear weapons in Israel’s arsenal, or tens of thousands in our own.
Some of these people pushing Israel’s wars as American wars have dual US-Israeli citizenship. More speak openly of what they call “dual loyalty,” a presumed equivalence of allegiance between the country of their citizenship – the United States – and the country of their hearts, which is Israel. Put aside for the moment the uncomfortable fact that no two countries ever have identical interests. Recognize that “dual loyalty” is essentially an affirmation of the principle of political bigamy, and as such, is every bit as hypocritical and dishonest as marital bigamy. Understand that as appalling as it is for people holding US citizenship to act effectively as unregistered agents of a foreign government, for elected and appointed officials of the US government to knowingly spend American lives and treasure in the service of a foreign country is high treason, even if the country being served is Israel.
America has done some things in its past of which I am not proud. It has done many more things, in my judgment, that merit praise. It has been, and is being, deflected from its proper path by those whose interests and objectives have nothing to do with the welfare of the American people or that of the United States. Our goals on this Memorial Day and afterwards are straightforward. Honour the warriors. Scrutinize the war-makers. Work to ensure that no more Americans die in Israel's name, and that treason at home in Israel’s name does not prosper.
*Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College. He can be contacted at email@example.com