Friday, November 11, 2011

On This Veteran's Day -- WAKE UP, AMERICA!

I, for one, am old enough to remember (as a young boy) when Veterans Day was still called Armistice Day, in commemoration of the agreement of 11 November 1918 that ended the shooting of the "Great War" - though only after tens of thousands of doughboys (and, literally, millions of their British, German, French, Russian, Ottoman, and Anzac brothers-in-arms) had died often agonizing deaths, most of them in miserable trenches.  

I grew up on post-World War II movies (and played backyard war games) that celebrated American GIs  - especially heroes like the tiny Texan Audie Murphy (who went to his death in an airplane crash still tormented by nightmares of his combat experiences), reviled the Germans (and Italians) they fought, but  reserved a special (unequivocally racist) scorn for the "Japs" (or "Nips") and, in movies like "Pork Chop Hill," slightly later, the Chinese who for a while overwhelmed American forces in the UN "police action" that came to be known as the Korean War.

But ever since the mid-1960s, I've seen my government shove hundreds of thousands of young American men (and, in recent decades, women) into the maw of horrific combat in faraway places, to fight wars where the US had no business going in the first place (in Vietnam, and Iraq) and/or  tried to achieve a "victory" that was simply beyond its capacity (in Vietnam and, especially, Iraq and Afghanistan).  In the process, more tens of thousands of young Americans killed, maimed, disfigured, or emotionally scarred (like my brother-in-law Tony, a wonderful man whose brow beaded in sweat when, only months ago, he recounted for me - after years of never speaking about it, at least to me - his personal horrors of Vietnam combat).

So, on this Veterans Day 2011, I thank Tony, and honor his service and his sacrifice.  And I also thank, and honor the service, of my students Tim, Matt, Marshall, and Greg, all of whom laid their lives on the line in Iraq.

But I also don't want my government shovelling any more young Tony's into that gaping Great White Shark maw of Useless War.  . . .

which is exactly where they're going to be headed if those now beating an ever louder tattoo to drum up war have their way.  I speak of those like Billy Kristol, other neocon worthies like Gordon Chang, as well as rodeo clowns like Rick Perry (whose intellectual agility has been on display for weeks on national TV.  Really, Texans, you made this oaf your governor?!  This is the best you people can do?!) - and now, the GOP "moderate" Mitt Romney (Greg Scoblete at Compass provides the actual wording.  At least Romney can quote Latin.  I suppose the closest Perry ever got to that would have been from reading names on the Texas Rangers' roster.)  And let's not forget Netanyahu's cheerleaders at AIPAC - all of them intent on riling up Congress' blood lust against Bibi's new Hitler, those nefarious Iranians.

From M. J. Rosenberg - a commentator who professes a love for Israel as Israel was originally meant to be (which is not what it has now become; see Gershom Gorenberg's just released book - ) comes today an exhortation that we honor American veterans on this Veterans' Day by rejecting the continuing calls to go to war with Iran.

To put it simply. An attack on Iran by Israel or the United States would embroil the Middle East in war, would threaten the world's oil supply and economy, would likely unleash a massive missile attack by Hezbollah on Israel, would jeopardize 100,000 U.S. troops in the Middle East, would solidify the Iranian regime's waning support among the population, and still would delay the Iranian nuclear program by only 2-3 years.

Insanity.

So what's to be done about Iran?

An attack will not deter whatever motivation Iranians may have for a nuclear bomb. In fact, an attack is one way to ensure that the Iranians do get a bomb (to protect themselves from future attacks). And further sanctions, which AIPAC has made a litmus test for campaign support, will only hurt ordinary Iranian citizens without affecting the nuclear program.

No, there is only one way to deal with Iran and it is the one we have never tried: unconditional, comprehensive negotiations.

No, not the kind of baby step talks both sides occasionally propose, but real negotiations that puts everything on the table: Iran's nuclear program, Israel's refusal to sign the NPT, Iran's threats against Israel and its unremitting hostility to it, Iranian support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, U.S. attempts to overthrow the Iranian regime and our support for the assassination of its civilian scientists, and Iran's role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Only comprehensive negotiations will end the Iran crisis without plunging the region, and possibly the world, into war. Only successful comprehensive negotiations can provide both Israel and Iran with the confidence to get off a course that could lead to mutual destruction. Nothing else will work and everything else has been tried. There is no alternative to diplomacy. Period.

Indeed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your support. I feel good knowing that Obama is a shoe-in for 2012. The list of GOP candidates reads like a Ringling Bros-Barnum and Bailey Circus freak show.

I remember Armistice Day because we lost our last dough-boy in Frank Buckles this year. For the first time in our history, there will be no more American WWI vets to commemorate it as such.

Kudos on your comments and hope to see you soon.

-Marshall Nelson

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