'We Are a Peaceful People'

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“There is
at the head of this great continent a very powerful country, very
rich, very warlike, and capable of anything… the United States
seems destined to plague and torment the continent in the name
of freedom.”

~
Simn Bolvar, “the George Washington of South America”

“…we have
about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of
its population… In this situation, we cannot fail to be the
object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period
is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to
maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment
to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with
all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have
to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.
We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury
of altruism and world-benefaction… We should cease to talk about
vague and – for the Far East – unreal objectives such
as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization.
The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight
power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans,
the better.

~
leading liberal geopolitical theoretician George Kennan,
Policy Planning Study 23, U.S. State Department, 1948

Kennan, who will turn 100 this year, would mend his
ways somewhat later in life. He eventually advocated the withdrawal
of U.S. forces from Western Europe if the Soviets would leave their
satellites. He became an opponent of the Vietnam War fairly early
for an establishment figure, along with Senator J. William Fulbright.
Most recently, he bitterly attacked the Baby Bush’s invasion of
Iraq–one of the few liberal foreign policy mandarins, along with
Arthur Schlessinger Jr., to have learned something from history.

The same cannot be said of the Necons. Think
twice when George W. Bush and his cohorts jabber on about stuff
like their “idealism.”
We the people can safely be as contemptuous of such rhetorical claims
as was Kennan.

We
can similarly dismiss statements like this one, delivered by George
W. Bush 48 hours before the phony deadline for Saddam to leave Iraq
expired on March 17, 2003. Whether it was a matter of coincidence
or some of Wolfowitz’s sick humor, the president made these remarks
on the Ides of March.

“Should
enemies strike our country, they would be attempting to shift our
attention with panic and weaken our morale with fear. In this, they
would fail. No act of theirs can alter the course or shake the resolve
of this country. We are a peaceful people [emphasis mine]
– yet we’re not a fragile people, and we will not be intimidated
by thugs and killers. If our enemies dare to strike us, they and
all who have aided them, will face fearful consequences.”

In
relation to the receptivity of good-hearted Americans to such gross
lies, it is a complicated matter. When many Americans hear such
brave and resolute things, they see such determination reflected
in their own lives. There is a disconnect however between the state
and the individual.

Let’s
not kid ourselves, there is also the matter of American chauvinism
and jingoism. When you’ve been on top for so long, you can’t help
but get light headed, especially if you take your cues from The
Leader’s televised utterances.

If
you’re somehow brave enough to face the fact that you’re just one
being on a planet of nearly seven billion others – yes, fundamentalist,
I’m addressing you – the individual gazes into the abyss. So,
comfort comes from the embrace of the ersatz, state-sanctioned
“American family.”

Americans,
perhaps more than any other rich people on earth, desperately want
to belong to something. Most often, it means signing up with the
corporate state’s media fantasia.

And
yet, there is a way to recognize the horrific legacy of elements
in Western “civilization”
while still extracting the plentiful
enough good; even as this becomes more and more like the threading
of a needle.

Iraqis
too, like humans pretty much everywhere, probably also think of
themselves as “a peaceful people.” I imagine this sort of self-understanding
might also be inflamed if we were ever invaded by some theoretical
power. I reckon we wouldn’t see it as “liberation” – we sure
didn’t in 1814 when the Brits burned the White House – regardless
of whatever noble intentions might be proffered. [Two intrepid lewrockell.com
readers pointed out that the British burned the White House in retaliation
for the Americans burning the city of York--today's Toronto--in
the previous year. Interesting stuff.]

So,
while the rest of the world doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry
when they hear such Bushian pronouncements, below please find some
comparisons which might explain the disconnect between too many
Americans and the rest of the world.

  • # of times
    Panama invaded the United States: 0
  • # of times
    the United States invaded Panama: 6 (1895, 1901, 1908, 1912, 1925,
    1989)
  • # of times
    the United States sent troops occupy Beirut: 2 (1958, 1983)
  • # of times
    Lebanon sent troops to occupy Washington: 0
  • # of South
    East Asians annihilated in their own lands by the United States:
    3,000,000
  • # of Americans
    annihilated in their own country by South East Asians: 0
  • # of times
    the United Kingdom has invaded the U. S. and burned Washington:
    1
  • # of times
    the U. S. has invaded the United Kingdom and burned down London:
    0
  • The United
    Kingdom is the only state which has done unto us more than we
    have done to them. That’s one reason they’re so helpful now –
    they’re even older hands at this sort of thing than we are.
  • # of Nicaraguans
    killed by American-backed terrorists in the 1980s: 40,000
  • # of Americans
    killed by Nicaraguan-backed terrorists in the 1980s or any other
    time: 0

    “I spent
    thirty-three years and four months in active service as a member
    of our country’s most agile military force – the Marine
    Corps – and during that period I spent most of my time
    being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street
    and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.
    Like all members of the military profession I never had an original
    thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained
    in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher-ups…
    I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American
    oil interest in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent
    place for the National City bank boys to collect revenues in.
    I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics
    for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is
    long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking
    house of Brown Bros. in 1909–1912. I brought light to the
    Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped
    make Honduras “right” for American fruit companies in 1903.
    In China in 1927 I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went
    its way unmolested… Looking back on it, I feel I might have
    given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate
    his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three
    continents.”

~ Major General Smedley Butler, (USMC)
a two-time winner of the Medal of Honor
and the most highly decorated soldier of his day, 1933

  • # of times
    the U.S. has bombed Serbia: 1
  • # of times
    Serbia has bombed the U.S.: 0
  • # of times
    the U.S. has invaded the Dominican Republic: 2 (1916, 1965)
  • # of times
    the Dominican Republic has invaded the U.S.: 0
  • # of human
    beings massacred by U.S.-backed death squads in El Salvador and
    Guatemala during the 1980s: 180,000
  • # of human
    beings massacred by Salvadoran and Guatemalan-backed death squads
    in the United States: 0
  • # of human
    beings murdered by U.S.-backed fascist governments in Uruguay,
    Chile and Argentina in the 1970s as part of “Operation Condor”:
    32,000
  • # of human
    beings murdered by the states of Uruguay, Chile and Argentina
    in the United States in the 1970s as part of “Operation Condor:”
    2

Pinochet’s
perpetrators of this act of international terrorism – exploding
a car bomb in downtown Washington D.C. – were never particularly
pursued, much less caught

  • # of human
    beings killed by U.S.-client Suharto in Indonesia in 1965: 600,000
  • # of human
    beings killed by Suharto in the United States: 0
  • # of times
    the United States has invaded Iraq: 2
  • # of times
    Iraq has invaded the United States: 0
  • # of children
    who died as a consequence of American bombing of civilian targets
    – chiefly the water purification and sanitation system –
    and sanctions from the Gulf War to Operation Iraqi Liberation:
    500,000
  • # of children
    who died at the hand of Saddam Hussein in the United States: 0
  • # of Americans
    killed in the horror of 9/11: 2,800
  • # of Afghan
    civilians killed after Operation Enduring Freedom began: over
    4,000
  • # of Iraqis
    killed as a consequence of Operation Iraqi Freedom: anywhere from
    100,000 and counting.
  • # of Americans
    killed as a consequence of Operation Iraqi Freedom: 1,400 and
    counting.
  • # of Iraqis
    killed from the start of the first Gulf War, through the sanctions
    and the liberation: 750,000.
  • # of Americans
    killed from the start of the first Gulf War, through the sanctions
    and the liberation: 1,700.

Of
course, I’m not counting the over 200,000 young Americans suffering
– and dying – from Gulf War Syndrome in the above number.

“[Our] people
are not a warlike nation. It is a soldierly one, which means it
does not want war but does not fear it. It loves peace, but also
its honor and freedom.”

~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

The
point is, we are a peaceful people.

February
15, 2005

Stephen
Bender [send him mail] is a writer based in San Francisco. You can
find more of his work at his
website
.

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