Imagine that in this alternate universe, a foreign military power begins flying remote-controlled warplanes over your town, using onboard missiles to kill hundreds of your innocent neighbors.
Now imagine that when you read the newspaper about this ongoing bloodbath, you learn that the foreign nation’s top general is nonchalantly telling reporters that his troops are also killing “an amazing number” of your cultural brethren in an adjacent country. Imagine further learning that this foreign power is expanding the drone attacks on your community despite the attacks’ well-known record of killing innocents. And finally, imagine that when you turn on your television, you see the perpetrator nation’s tuxedo-clad leader cracking stand-up comedy jokes about drone strikes—jokes that prompt guffaws from an audience of that nation’s elite.
Ask yourself: How would you and your fellow citizens respond? Would you call homegrown militias mounting a defense “patriots” or would you call them “terrorists”? Would you agree with your leaders when they angrily tell reporters that violent defiance should be expected?
Fortunately, most Americans don’t have to worry about these queries in their own lives. But how we answer them in a hypothetical thought experiment provides us insight into how Pakistanis are likely to be feeling right now. Why? Because thanks to our continued drone assaults on their country, Pakistanis now confront these issues every day. And if they answer these questions as many of us undoubtedly would in a similar situation—well, that should trouble every American in this age of asymmetrical warfare.
On this date (May 12) in 1962, Douglas MacArthur delivered his famous “Duty, Honor, Country” valedictory speech at the United States Military Academy. The original speech may be read here, but I have made small changes so that it might be a more fitting address from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico to a dying America 48 years later.
President Obama, British Petroleum officials, shareholders, and servicemen of the United Corporations of America. As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, “Where are you bound for, General?” and when I replied, “The Gulf of Mexico,” he replied, “Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before? If so, you won’t recognize it today.”
No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a setting as this, coming from a profession I have served so long and people I have loved so well. It fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But as look at these shores today–awash will the oil we have sacrificed so much for–this fitting reward symbolizes the moral code–the code of conduct of those like me who have served the US–the “defensive” arm of fine companies like Shell, Unocal and BP, we wore our uniforms proudly as we fought and often died for this “American way of life“.
What is the meaning of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated with so feeble an ideal–yet somehow triumphant in its purpose as we can see, smell and feel here, arouses a sense of humility which will be with me always.
“Duty,” “Honor,” “Country”–those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, yet as an American soldier or oil consumer–what you will never be. They are your rallying points to build rhetoric when facts fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for it, and to create hope even when it is based on chains we can believe in.
Mother: Something or someone that gives rise to or exercises protecting care over something else; origin or source.
Flag: a piece of cloth, varying in size, shape, color, and design, usually attached at one edge to a staff or cord, and used as the symbol of a nation, state, or organization.
When a mother sends her son (or daughter) into “service for her country” and she gets the proverbial knock on the door, she is soon given a memorial flag. Such may be an appropriate tribute for those who may still believe that we are fighting for freedom, but for anyone who understand its true motivations, a can of oil might be more fitting.
Ironically, while “our troops were fighting for our freedoms” over the previous eight years, a United States law (18 USC Sec. 700, January 2009) was passed which stated, “Whoever knowingly casts contempt upon any of the United States by publicly mutilating,defacing, defiling, burning, or trampling upon it shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.”
You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that. Defend that. Celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”. The American President
One would have to be a blind man to not see that America is fast losing the fundamental principles of liberty upon which our once-great country was established. And, without a doubt, the single biggest reason for this decline is the lack of concern and effort on the part of today’s Christians and pastors to resist it.
All over America, when one approaches our pastors and church leaders with the obvious decay and ruination of constitutional government and Declaration principles taking place in our land today, the response flippantly comes back: “God hasn’t called me to do that; I’m supposed to win souls and that’s it.” (Or words to that effect.) As if the call to Gospel preaching, evangelism, and missionary endeavor negates our responsibility as citizens of a free land.
Of course, this call to “win souls” doesn’t interfere with these preachers’ golf games; it doesn’t interfere with their family vacations; it doesn’t interfere with their active membership in whatever local civic organization they happen to belong to; it doesn’t interfere with their hiring of a lawyer if they are falsely accused or defrauded; it doesn’t interfere with their invitations to celebrity politicians for special church recognition on patriotic holidays; it doesn’t interfere with them going to the polls to vote; it only seems to interfere when they are personally asked to take a stand in the gap for our country’s liberties. Then, all of a sudden, they haven’t been “called,” or “God will take care of it,” or “Jesus is coming soon,” or “Religion and politics don’t mix,” ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.
“We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the country away from those who have hijacked it. The only question now is whose revolution gets funded.”
The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.
Now back in 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program.
There are many ways in which our government has invaded the precincts of private citizens, the method of earning a living. Our government is in business to the extent over owning more than 19,000 businesses covering 47 different lines of activity. This amounts to a fifth of the total industrial capacity of the United States.
But at the moment I’d like to talk about another way. Because this threat is with us and at the moment is more imminent.
One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.
Are there no depths to which conservatives will not sink in their ardent embrace of the war on terrorism? The latest monstrosity from the right came courtesy of Keep America Safe, a toxic organization headed by Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently put out a disgraceful TV ad, “Who Are the Al-Qaeda Seven?” The ad questioned the loyalty and patriotism of nine lawyers in the Justice Department who had represented prisoners at Guantánamo before joining the DoJ.
To be fair, Liz Cheney’s ad has backfired badly, drawing the ire not only of those on the left, but also of heavyweight conservatives, nineteen of whom signed a statement last week denouncing it, declaring, “We consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications,” and adding that the attacks on the lawyers “undermine the Justice system more broadly,” by “delegitimizing” any system in which accused terrorists have lawyers, whether that system is federal court trials or military commissions.
Those who signed the statement included former Solicitor General Ken Starr, former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, former White House lawyer Brad Berenson, John Bellinger, the former legal adviser to the National Security Council and the State Department, and two former detainee policy officials in the Bush administration, Matthew Waxman, and Charles “Cully” Stimson, who, ironically, was himself forced to resign from the DoD in 2007 after starting a similar witch-hunt against corporate law firms whose lawyers represented prisoners at Guantánamo.
I, a patriotic American, do hereby declare this to be my official request if I am killed in a ‘terrorist attack’.
Article I: War Powers
Congress must no longer abdicate its constitutional responsibility by granting open-ended war powers to the President through vague “resolutions” or “authorizations”. If a military response is warranted against another country, then Congress must formally declare war as stipulated in the Constitution. Or, if a military response is warranted against a terrorist group or organization, then Congress must formally grant Letters of Marque & Reprisal as stipulated in the Constitution.
Article II: Civil Liberties
We must not allow our constitutional rights to be undermined in the name of national security. Fear of terrorist acts is not sufficient cause to relinquish our civil liberties. Liberties such as, but not limited to, the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of the internet, Habeas corpus, and freedom from government spying on private citizens must be strictly upheld in the event of an attack.
“Cogitations from the Home Front”
hat tip: BigEye.com
March 15, 2010
The lid is blowing off a story broadcast by American TV on September 11, 2001. The question now is whether or not owners and managers of America’s mainline media will be able to continue burying facts, questions, controversy, speculations, and conclusions contradicting that day’s professionally crafted narrative. When will the American people be given access to documented facts unearthed over the years since that tragic and exceptional day?
We were told repeatedly, even while the towers in New York were still standing, that a man in a cave in Afghanistan was responsible. We were led to believe that he managed a group of Arab terrorists who flew our commercial airliners on 911. As proof, his picture was repeatedly flashed across major TV networks with the smoking buildings in the background. Today, our own FBI claims they lack any evidence linking that man to 9/11.
We are still repeatedly shown, in newspapers and on TV, photos of 19 “Arab terrorists” supposedly on the planes, with no other proof of their even being there. Poorly produced and obviously faked videos of the big boogyman have been trotted out periodically. Where were they produced? The “flying Arabs” keep turning up alive and well. Who stole, forged, and assumed their identities? Other Arabs? Why?
Last week, Congress debated a resolution directing the President to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan no later than the end of this year. The Constitution gives the power to declare war to the Congress, so it is clearly appropriate for Congress to assert its voice on matters of armed conflict. In recent decades, however, Congress has defaulted on this most critical duty, essentially granting successive presidents the unilateral (and clearly unconstitutional) power to begin and end wars at will. This resolution was not expected to pass; however, the ensuing debate and floor vote served some very important purposes.
First, it was important to finally have an actual floor debate on the merits and demerits of continuing our involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan. Most congressional action regarding Afghanistan has concerned continued funding for the conflict. Thus, members of Congress have cloaked their support for an increasingly unpopular war in terms of financial support of the troops. But last week’s resolution had nothing to do with funding or defunding the war, but rather dealt directly with the wisdom of an open-ended commitment of U.S. troops (and hundreds of billions of tax dollars) in Afghanistan. Members opposing the resolution had to make their case for the ongoing loss of American lives as well as the huge expenditures required for an intractable conflict.
In my opinion, this was an impossible case to make.