By Mark David Blum, Esq.
To paraphrase my President in a speech given in prime time on September 11, 2006, “we are in the midst of the great ideological battle of the Second Millennium.” He called it the “battle for civilization.” I couldn’t agree more. Today, Congress votes on the Bush plan to expand the War in Iraq. The message Congress sends today will establish America’s ideological future.
I would carry the President’s 9/11 message one step further. I argue that we now stand at the precipice of change. However which way we leap forward, our next move will be drastic and our society will be changed forever. Are we living through what will be known to future generations as the early days of the American holocaust? As we choose our next path, the question becomes one of whether we will continue forward with the attitude and behavior last seen in the 1930’s with the rise of the German National Socialists.
We have become the Generation that abandoned the American constitution and her principles of liberty, honor, and integrity because we so fear a terrorist bomb. The American heart now beats with the pulse of a coward’s blood. Our President and his party gave us this social transfusion of ideology. How quickly they convinced you to surrender your soul for some small amount of safety. Americans actually debated on what is and is not torture. The so-called ‘Greatest Generation’ and every generation before them would never have that discussion. Like fresh bread, every true and honorable American knows torture and needs no further elaboration thereof. Americans treat human beings like human beings. The alleged Christian nation is obligated by its Lord to love every man.
How would you judge a society where American soldiers are by Executive fiat and consent, torturing prisoners at secret prisons throughout the world, where our own Government is engaged in willful, blatant, in-your-face illegal spying on Americans here at home, and where now we now constantly have to prove to police that we are doing nothing wrong and have nothing to hide.
Osama Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda destroyed buildings and murdered three thousand Americans in an unprovoked attack. Our nation responded. But then, the President and the Republicans turned the war against our own nation. They lied to us to expand the war. As of this writing, the Republican policies and our nation’s present leaders have killed more Americans and destroyed more buildings, and disrupted our own economy far worse than did our enemies.
What we are witnessing is not an accident. We were dragged into a war in Iraq against our will and based on a serious lies and intense marketing. Out of that war, we have engaged in activities that defy the American heart. The United States is now becoming isolated. Other nations are forming coalitions against us. Courts are seeking to prosecute our leaders and soldiers. CIA operatives are buying insurance.
All these abuses are willful acts perpetrated intentionally. We all share the blame. Our President planned it. Intelligence Services executed it both in Cuba and in Iraq. They brought in Chinese interrogation “experts” to show us how to get it done. Lawyers trained and guided the President how to end-run the law and avoid prosecution. Congress treated it like a big joke. The media hid the story. American doctors participated in the torturing of prisoners. One foolish lawyer suggested it was OK to torture; we just need “rules” for it. The outgoing Attorney General argued the Courts have nothing to say about it. We the People accept the Nuremburg Defense.
To most of the world, it is criminal. Our own government has declared it criminal. A soldier just went to prison for 3 years for shooting a badly wounded Iraqi. Lyndie England and her gang gave up substantial amounts of freedom for their sins.
Believe me, I understand the rage: The rage of September 11th, the Rage of Nick Berg, the Rage of Madrid, and 100 Tel Aviv bombings. I understand the Rage of war and the stress of combat. The only rule of war for the soldier is to kill the enemy; period. I get it. My heart hurts for the near 3,000 American soldiers now dead in Iraq and the families of the more than 20,000 wounded. Hundreds if not thousands more still stand to die or be wounded and my heart hurts for them as well.
But, the ends do not justify the means. Our government knows information gathered from these abuses cannot be used in a criminal prosecution. It is obviously not their intent. They clearly want this information for prosecuting the war. The War on Terror has changed the scenario where the bad guys are no longer criminals, they are not military opponents. Despite being human beings, captured ‘terrorists’ have no legal standing in any court. Right or wrong, this is the current U.S. policy.
Tell your concerns to the survivors of the Malmedy Massacre at the Battle of the Bulge. Share your fears with those who walked the Bataan Death March. It matters a lot how we treat people; whether they are civilian criminals or military targets. Every one is a human being. Americans do not build camps, interrogate by torture, and openly violate the law for the purposes of War. Our history is to the contrary. It would be considered “Un-American”. "Men who take up arms against another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings responsible to one another." (General Order 100 of the United States Army Field Manual of 1863).
Forget the enemy. Let him die. Let him suffer pain and angst ten thousandfold for what he has done to us. He made us kill him and for that, there is no mercy.
But my greater concerns lie with the soul of our nation and with the souls of my children. For my nation, it pains me that we no longer maintain the moral high ground. Ours is not the dream others seek. Nobody wants to live as a nation that would treat prisoners as such. The whole world condemns us now. Even the Russians sing in that chorus.
I would be proud if my grandsons served in the military. I would worry every moment they were gone. But if they should be taken prisoner of some military conflict or if they should be discovered wounded by the enemy, I insist that they be treated humanely and be protected. I can demand such treatment only if I too grant such safety to theirs. My government puts all of that at risk.
None of this is going to change until we change our 1960’s attitudes and go back to our roots. The concept of “think globally, act locally” is wonderful in theory. In following that policy, our attention was always on our local politicians what they can do for us. Few if any of us really cared about the candidate’s party and were moreso focused on the individual.
I declare that such policy has got to stop; at least temporarily. Ignoring the global issues and delegating that discussion to others has left our nation in tatters. For 13 years, this Nation was held hostage to a single political party with a stranglehold on all three branches of government at the Federal and at every State and local level. Married to the fundamentalist Christian evangelical movement, the Republicans used the political pulpit to bring together the forces of messianic Christianity and the dogma of ‘Daddy’ politics. The party is the party of huge spending programs, massive government growth and public sector employment, and constantly seeking to remove privacy and other personal freedoms. As stated by one of their candidates in Florida, Republicans do not recognize a separation of Church and State and honestly believe that God belongs in our civil laws and in our State houses. Now, Republicans do not control Congress. Their failed policies were rejected.
To garner support and maintain their base, they constantly bring up two words … “9/11” and “terrorism”. Well, I say neither word scares me any longer because of the greater threat posed by surrendering to the fear. Consider the Israeli model: In my opinion, it is OK to be a Jew, support the idea of a Jewish State of Israel and still be appalled and offended at the antics of the government of the State of Israel. Just as one can be an American and oppose American policy.
Israel gives us a prime example as to why we should NOT be following Republican policies in the Middle East. For 50 years, Israelis have answered their neighbors with bombs, bullets, and civil oppression. Nobody says Israel is totally to blame. I argue simply that they chose the wrong path to resolution. Founded because it was time to give Jews a safe place, that nation has since been constantly at war; first with its neighbors and then engaged in a civil war.
The problem is that in the process of isolating themselves and dealing with opposition with violence and anger, the nation has changed. It has become the very devil from which its founders ran. The nature of the conflict and the standard Israeli response has changed that society. They are a paranoid people who traded away most of their freedoms and civil rights to be protected. History shows that they are not protected and instead the situation has deteriorated. It is worse than ever. Today, being a Jew is synonymous with being an Israeli and Arab anger toward Israel is now directed at Jews. This is an intolerable situation.
President Bush and the Republican Party want America to follow this model. This ‘bring-a-gun-to-a-knife-fight’ attitude and response has brought on international condemnation. Our expansion of operations has angered and created more enemies than were extant at the beginning. The need for control and moderation of the private lives of our own citizens has cost us our most cherished freedoms.
The ideals embodied in the Constitution are greater than the life of a single citizen, or even three thousand of them, as these ideals have to last for 3,000 generations. Born in a time of great national strife, civil unrest, war, economic and political disarray, our constitution was written by men who despite all that hardship and risk, insisted that some rights remained inalienable.
It is time to rise up your fists. It is time to yell and shout and scream. America and all that She represents is at risk. Staying the course is about to send our ship of State crashing into the rocks.
The legacy you leave for your children demands nothing less.