Periodically it’s important to sit back, reflect, and contemplate what kind of country America has become under the warfare state under which we have born and raised. It is really quite astonishing.
When I was growing up, the last thing I would have ever imagined was that my government, through its military and paramilitary forces, would be engaged in torture. Torture was something that barbaric regimes in the olden days did. Or Nazi Germany. Or the Soviet Union. Not the United States. Who would have ever dreamed that U.S. officials would not only be authorizing torture but also shielding those who did it from criminal prosecution?
While we’ve all become accustomed to the idea of foreign aid — U.S. taxpayer money being sent to foreign governments — on reflection it is still shocking to me that my government would not only send taxpayer money to a regime that it knew was tyrannical but that it would also enter into a torture partnership with such a regime.
When I was growing up, I believed that this sort of thing was what bad people did, not Americans. Our country was supposed to be different. Our government would never support something evil, and everyone knew that tyranny and torture were evil. If one of my schoolteachers had told me that the U.S. government would one day be helping brutal, totalitarian, military dictatorships to oppress and torture their own people or to torture people on the request of our government, I would have never believed it. Not the United States.
Or consider presidential wars waged in violation of the constitutional provision requiring a congressional declaration of war. Ever since the Korean War, we have come to accept that the president, whoever he might be, simply is not going to comply with that provision of the Constitution, which is the law that we the people have imposed on him and other federal officials. That’s stunning to me. The law is the law. The president expects citizens to obey his laws, including ridiculous ones, like drug laws, and punishes them when they don’t. Why isn’t he forced to obey our law — the law of the Constitution? Why doesn’t Congress impeach him for intentionally violating the Constitution?
Or consider one of the war crimes at Nuremberg — waging wars of aggression against other nations. That was something the Nazi government did … or the Soviet government, not the U.S. government. Yet, today it has become an accepted fact that the U.S. government wields the authority to level a military attack on nations that have never attacked the United States. Just ask the Iraqis. Or the Libyans. Or the Somalis.
Or consider assassination. I recall how horrified people were on November 23, 1963, when our president was assassinated in Dallas. The last thing I ever figured at the time was that the U.S. government would later adopt a formal policy of assassination, including assassinating American citizens.
Or consider where the U.S. government went to borrow the money to finance its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. It went to the Chinese government for the money, which is why China is now one of the major foreign creditors of the United States. Hardly anyone gives that fact a second thought. Yet, wasn’t it the Chinese communists who helped kill 58,148 American men in the Vietnam War? Aren’t the communists still in power in China? Isn’t it still a brutal totalitarian regime? Why in the world would our government go to them for the money to finance its foreign wars? Why them?
Or consider the alternative judicial system for trying suspected terrorists that the Pentagon has established in Cuba. Everyone knows what that’s all about — to ensure that whoever is accused of being a terrorist is convicted and punished, after a kangaroo show trial. But that’s something the Nazis did. Do you remember the People’s Court, the special court established by Hitler to ensure that suspected terrorists were never acquitted by the regular courts? Do you recall the story of the White Rose, where young war critics were convicted and punished for treason in the People’s Court? And don’t forget the show trials that the Soviet communists used to make it look like people condemned to die had first received trials.
Or consider the illegal searches of people’s telephone records and emails conducted by the NSA on orders of the president. I always believed that that was the sort of thing that Nazis and communists did — spy on their own people and closely monitor their activities. Yet, here is our government doing the same thing as the Nazis and the communists — and then shielding the malefactors from criminal prosecution.
Or consider the fact that government officials can now leer at and fondle the private parts of any person who chooses to fly commercial air, and people simply have to submit if they choose to fly. Who would have ever thought that we’d be living in that sort of country? Sure, one could imagine that sort of thing in some country run by a totalitarian regime, but here in the United States? Hard to believe.
Of course, apologists for all this claim that it’s necessary for the U.S. government to have moved down this dark road in order to protect the American people from the terrorists. Well, except for one thing: it’s the U.S. government that has produced the anti-American terrorists with its overseas actions, especially in the Middle East. Such being the case, wouldn’t it be better to stop that sort of thing rather than continue a course of conduct that necessitates, according to the apologists, actions that would be better left to the likes of Nazis, communists, and other evil regimes?