The wags all said Mitt Romney spent a lot of time agreeing with President Barack Obama during the foreign policy debate this past Monday evening, October 22, 2012.
That is because there is very little difference between the Democrats and the Republicans on how America views the world. America sees itself as the world’s dominant power.
The idea of American imperial power is not to be questioned in the charade that is a presidential election. CBS’ “journalist” and debate moderator Bob Schieffer obliged the mythological status, and did not question why the United States needs to maintain this position of global primacy.
This “presidential” conversation about American hegemony featured exchanges about the ways in which our military maintains supremacy.
Romney bemoaned our shrinking Navy, comparing it to 1916 levels of forces. Unspoken was the fact that Romney’s chief military advisor was Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy, and back in 1983, sought 600 ships.
Obama mocked Romney’s reliance on 1980’s foreign policy, and issued his now-famous rejoinder about the disappearance of bayonets and horses. The United States now has aircraft carriers and drones and cruise missiles, Obama said.
The silenced voice, unwelcome in the conversation thanks to electoral manipulation, could not ask why the U.S.A. requires these giant amalgamations of deadly force.
The silenced voice could not criticize the 700-plus military bases the USA has built around the world.
The silenced voice was not at the table to demand answers from Obama on his use of targeted assassinations of American citizens.
The silenced voice could not impart historical context into the sword-wagging at Iran. As a little boy, all of seven years old, I remember the fervor that gripped our country about the hostages in Iran.
My older sister Kathy cut out letters from construction paper that said “Welcome Home Hostages” and taped them to our picture window, out in the suburbs in Watertown. There were no hostages from anywhere in Litchfield County.
The Krayeske family’s message to passers-by, like the yellow ribbons everyone tied around their trees, was of American unity. We are all one. We will not be bullied by some nation half-way around the world.
As a seven-year-old boy, I remember watching the television to see the freed hostages disembark from the planes. Only later, as an adult curious about the world did I learn of the CIA’s 1954 overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected president Mohammed Mossadegh.
Mossadegh wanted to nationalize the oil fields in Iran, much to British Petroleum’s dismay. So the CIA and the British counterpart MI6 staged a coup, and installed the Shah. The puppet dictator ruled the country of 70 million with an iron fist, torturing and disappearing opponents.
In 1979, the storming of the American embassy was what Chalmers Johnson called blowback. Our foreign policy bit us in the ass, a quarter of a century later.
So when Romney says that Iran is the greatest threat to America, I shouted back at the television our own foreign policy is our greatest enemy. My friend shouted “global warming.” Both of our answers are right. Neither was mentioned in the charade that was a debate.
Romney and Obama displayed that childish, uninformed sense of American unity on Monday night. They also failed to give America’s relations with Iran the half century of context it requires. I found it infuriating, yet expected.
Nor did Romney or Obama mention Congress’ $400 million check to the CIA for covert operations in Iran in December 2008. You know what $400 million buys in covert ops? The so-called Green Revolution in Iran. $400 million buys destabilization of a nation.
I find the debate about Iranian nuclear weapons laughable, when Israel’s nuclear arsenal merited no mention. Romney and Obama, like boys at a school dance, were practically elbowing each other to say how much they each loved Israel more.
The silenced voice could not interrupt the Israeli love fest to talk about how damaging America’s relationship with Israel is, has been and will be for this country.
Andrew Bacevich, an American writer has recently described America’s foreign policy as having undergone “Israelification” in the past 20 years. Bacevich’s view has been published in liberal rags like Harper’s, and in right-wing pages like The American Conservative.
Bacevich’s theory, paraphrased: Peace means different things to different nations. To some, peace is harmony and mutual respect; to others peace means dominance. A nation that thinks peace is harmony employs force as a last resort. This was American foreign policy, or at least the US gave this view lip service.
In Bacevich’s own words: “A nation seeking peace-as-dominion will use force more freely. This has long been an Israeli predilection. Since the end of the Cold War and especially since 9/11, however, it has become America’s as well. As a consequence, U.S. national-security policy increasingly conforms to patterns of behavior pioneered by the Jewish state. This ‘Israelification’ of U.S. policy may prove beneficial for Israel. Based on the available evidence, it’s not likely to be good for the United States.”
“Israelification” began with the Gulf War I in 1991. Since then, Bacevich argues that “The pursuit of global military dominance, a proclivity for preemption, a growing taste for assassination—all justified as essential to self-defense” is our adoption of Israel’s world view.
Yet we are not Israel and need not be. The agreement between Obama and Romney about killing and hunting enemies on Monday night is a reflection of this “domination” theme for our place on the planet. While Romney acknowledged we cannot kill our way out of problems, the essence is that we can and must kill where necessary.
The silenced voice of Senator George McGovern on the Senate Floor in September 1970 was not present at the debate, although McGovern’s ghost certainly haunted South Florida Monday night. I will reprint McGovern’s 1970 words because of their sincerity and importance, and we must ask why this sentiment is missing from debate about our foreign policy today.
And when you read it, substitute “Afghanistan” for Vietnam. McGovern:
“Every Senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land—young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes. There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us.”