America's Perpetual War
by Jack Kenny: Remember
WHAT About Pearl Harbor?
Speaker of the House and 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich
spoke of the Palestinians as an "invented people," many
were offended on behalf of the Palestinians. But former Massachusetts
Governor and GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney was offended
on behalf of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
I made a statement of that nature," Romney admonished Gingrich
in a debate,
"I'd get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say:
'Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do?'"
That was vintage
Mitt Romney. Expect to hear more of it as we enter the summer season,
the national conventions and the fall campaign. When he was a candidate
for the 2008 presidential nomination, Romney was asked if the President
could launch military action against Iran without congressional
authorization. The lawyers, Romney replied, will sort out those
questions. (Ron Paul responded as though he had been launched from
anti-ballistics missile, as he pointedly shot down the notion that
lawyers, in the White House or elsewhere, could explain away the
constitutional requirement that Congress declare war.) Romney has
repeatedly said he wants the generals "on the ground"
in Afghanistan to decide when we should bring our troops home form
that desolate land that has little to offer besides endless warfare.
And he apparently is prepared to submit our foreign policy and,
indeed, our domestic political debate, to the imprimatur of the
Prime Minister of Israel.
U.S. Secretary of Defense, the director of our Central Intelligence
Agency, and 16 different intelligence services of the United States
have said at various times from 2007 to the present that there is
no evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb. Yet it
is ostensibly because of the possibility that what Iran maintains
is its civilian nuclear program might be converted to a strategic
military capability that the United States has imposed what David
Axelrod, senior political advisor to President Obama, has called
the "most withering" economic sanctions ever imposed on
any nation. And Romney and many leading Republicans claim those
sanctions are not tough enough. Romney has called for truly "crippling"
sanctions, backed by serious and credible threat of military force.
a tough guy?" asked Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly. You're
going to stare them down and say 'Look, I'm gonna use them'?"
Romney sat passively, showing no emotion as O'Reilly warned. "If
you bomb Iran that starts World War III. You know that. They're
going to try to block Hormuz. Oil will double. The unintended consequences
to the United States all across the Muslim world will be horrible."
Yes, Romney no doubt knows all that. But does he care?
should need to ask if the presumptive nominee of a major political
party cares if he starts World War III should be startling enough.
The possibility that he would be willing to do that out of a desire
to help "my friend, Bibi Netanyahu" is even more shocking.
has said repeatedly that he regards a nuclear-armed Iran as an "existential
threat" to Israel. This despite the fact that Israel has an
estimated 200 to 300 nuclear bombs of its own. If the Israelis have
their own ability to deter the Iranians or retaliate in devastating
fashion if Iran does attack, why do they need the economic and military
power of the United States not merely to back them up, but to wage
a preventive war for them?
And why have
we repeatedly put American soldiers in harm's way throughout the
world when the United States was not attacked or even threatened?
grown accustomed to the role of champion of other people's freedom
and well-being. We have long been proud of the fact that the graves
of American soldiers circle the globe. We have liberated countless
people and we celebrate our willingness to put the lives of young
Americans on the line for the oppressed of the world. But is it
not now time to take a step back from the precipice of war and ask
ourselves if we are really prepared to back up the check to which
President Kennedy affixed our name and seal, to be paid to the order
of "To Whom It May Concern"? America, the young President
pledged in his Inaugural Address,
would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support
any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and
the success of liberty. This much we pledge and more."
Good Lord, there's more? Oh, yes. There is nation building around
the globe. There is the duty of killing Afghanistan's opium business,
building schools, making sure their daughters receive the same education
as their sons. I recall that when my state still lacked a Job Corps
program, one of our local builders complained that Iraq would have
a Job Corps program before New Hampshire would. As a comedian remarked
way back in the Fifties, "Satire doesn't stand a chance against
reality anymore." Lyndon Johnson was determined to prove him
right. Remember the promise of a Great Society on the Mekong Delta
of South Vietnam?
with even a minimal knowledge of history know that the last time
the United States issued a formal declaration of war was in World
War II, and not without cause. Try as he might to drag Americans
into war to redeem the pledges made by the Machiavellians at Ten
Downing Street, America did not go to war until Japan attacked an
American military base on American territory in Hawaii. And we did
not declare war against Germany until the Germans, bound by a treaty
commitment to Japan, declared war on the United States.
Korean divisions invaded South Korea in June of 1950, President
Harry Truman, in the absence of any previously announced defense
commitment to South Korea, sent American troops into the battle
without so much as a "by your leave" to the Congress of
the United States. "We are not at war," he insisted at
a press conference
a few days later.
When a reporter
asked if our involvement might be called a "police action under
the United Nations," Truman, mistaking an anchor for a lifeline,
grasped it and said, "Yes, that is exactly what it amounts
to." Over the next three years Americans would come to bitterly
resent that "police action" and the President who arbitrarily
and unilaterally committed American lives to it. In all likelihood,
that decision and the circumlocution describing it cost Mr. Truman
another term in the White House.
Obama has America committed to Afghanistan well beyond the 2014
deadline for withdrawing combat forces. There is a ten-year commitment
beyond that and beyond that...? Well, who knows?
In the summer
of 1972, the United States was in the middle of its eighth year
of combat operations in an undeclared war in Viet Nam, a war that
began under suspicious circumstances concerning a naval attack that
may or may not have occurred in the Gulf of Tonkin. Senator George
McGovern of South Dakota accepted the presidential nomination of
the Democratic Party at its national convention in Miami that summer
with a speech few Americans heard, let alone heeded. Because of
time-consuming procedural battles, McGovern's speech was delivered
at what one wag called "prime time in Guam. Yet its message
was clear: "Come home, America!" was its oft-repeated
theme. McGovern lost in a landslide to President Richard M. Nixon,
who was fond of secret diplomacy in China and secret bombing in
Laos and Cambodia. America did not come home.
We still have
not. This Memorial Day, before we further decorate the earth with
more graves of more young Americans, let us pause to consider who
really "supports the troops." Is it those who are eager
to send young Americans to die in other people's quarrels or even
for other nations' imperial ambitions, all under the endlessly "entangling
alliances" of the United Nations and NATO? Let patriots stand,
rather, with John Quincy Adams in his July 4th toast
of 1821, noting with pride that America once again, in keeping with
her heritage of peace and freedom, "goes not abroad in search
of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and
independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of
Reprinted from The New
American with permission of the author.
NH, resident Jack Kenny [send
him mail] is a freelance writer.
© 2012 The New American
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