"If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all." ~ Virginia Woolf
Achtung! Are We the New Nazis? (Soldiers, God and Empire)
Gott Mit Uns. I felt a little shock and awe, actually disbelief, seeing the antique belt buckle for the first time. Worn by a Nazi German soldier, the aluminum, World War II era buckle carried the imperial eagle of the Third Reich above the familiar Swastika. Surrounding the eagle and Swastika was the motto, "Gott Mit Uns," or "God With Us." Certainly the Nazi Germans, villains in history and Hollywood movies, couldn't really have believed in God, could they?
Certainly the common German soldier fought with great courage, discipline and fervor, following orders given by the High Command. Yet the Nazis fought a ruthless war against smaller countries, attacking them after planting false evidence, overpowering them with a combination of vicious air strikes and crushing armored superiority and then installed corrupt or cruel puppet leaders. The Nazis demonized and then destroyed their enemies, after first intimidating and then liquidating their domestic opponents. The German propaganda machine cranked out misinformation and outright lies in the state-supported media, suppressing the truth and threatening anyone who dared to speak or print opposition to the war regime. Lutheran minister and German war veteran Martin Niemoller mirrored middle-class German society of that time: 'First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by then there was no one left to speak up for me.'
Presently, American military veterans' rank and file former soldiers mostly--are speaking out against American Imperialism, as well as ministers, artists, reporters, scientists and educators. But the powerful alliance of media monopolies and corporate-financed political leaders sway public opinion to war. In America, as was the case in Nazi Germany, the imperceptible slide to tyranny increases in direct proportion to the number of voices of conscience that are ignored. Is it curious or ironic how Blitzkrieg resembles Shock and Awe? Is it curious or ironic how Wolf Blitzer and Charles Krauthammer provide the running commentary for the war? Is it curious or ironic how Rumsfeld and Rommel are so similar, how each needed a desert for a dramatic stage? Yes, I know, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated to the 'free' media our 'humanitarian' method of war, but then German general Erwin Rommel or Joseph Goebbels could have said the very same thing to the German press. Are we the New Nazis? Could it happen here? Has it already begun? Absurd, you say. God is on our side. The God of Christians and Jews.
The last time I checked, the Pope was vehemently against the unprovoked war with Iraq, as were most ministers and priests. The National Council of Churches, with 50 million members in 36 denominations, opposed the war. The Catholic Church, with nearly 64 million Americans, did not support the war. Many American Jews did not support the war. Yet according to all reports, we've 'won' a war and the rumors are we may have another couple of other wars very soon.
God is on our side, but which one? The vengeful God, the one guiding our radioactive armor-sheathed battle tanks as they slice through families of frightened civilians? Or the merciful one, providing protection to those same civilians? Is ours the God of the Gospels and Torah--or the horrible, hydra-like god of cluster bombs? Do our coins--comparable to the Nazi belt buckles-- really carry the motto, 'In God We Trust"? Assuming the support for this war was a mile wide and an inch deep-- generally the case in polls and wars--how many Christian soldiers will continue to take up arms against the 'infidel' simply on the summons of Militant Christian Bush and Uber-Zionist Paul Wolfowitz?
An instructive book, A Quick And Dirty Guide To War, gives an overview of the entanglement awaiting our armies of occupation. Although the authors fail to mention the term 'Islamic Jihad,' they clearly describe the Middle East morass and the fact that Afghanistan has NEVER been conquered by an outside foreign power. America, by the way, is superpower number four to try, and our influence extends only as far as the outskirts of Kabul. In a prolonged, stepping-stone war of conquest and vendetta, thinly disguised as 'liberation,' how many American soldiers will suffice? If the Russians in Afghanistan could not pacify a region at their doorstep with over 150,000 troops, using Gestapo tactics, what makes American leaders think they can do better, using twice the troops over twice the area? Yes, we have the invincible Abrams M1A2 main Battle Tank (MBT), just as the Germans had the invincible Panzer Mark VI Tiger MBT in 1943. But like the Germans, we eventually have to emerge from our tanks, and what then? How many patriotic sons and daughters, heroically fighting for so many American lost causes, will emerge from the backwoods, single-stoplight towns, kids like Jessica Lynch, to serve as very vulnerable yet heavily-armed overseers in impoverished Mesopotamia? "Do we have ten million men willing to fight and save petroleum resources?" asks Anthony Gancarski in a recent Counterpunch column. "How many millions would it take to provide an occupation force sufficient to pacify the region? Is there any hope of attaining such a fighting force without conscription?" The answer is NO. The draft is a done deal if the war spreads.
The New York Times recently reported that America's military power, measured in military spending, exceeded that of all NATO countries combined--plus China, Russia, Japan, Iraq and North Korea--but the need for military men will surpass the capacity of the all-volunteer army if 'liberation' spreads to Syria and Iran, as our chief Chickenhawks intend. Former CIA director James Woolsey, handpicked by the Pentagon for the role of Pasha in post-war Iraq, publicly stated to a group of avid young Republicans at UCLA, "This Fourth World War [starting with Iraq and leading God knows where], I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us." Hopefully the students who weren't scared shitless listening to Woolsey--a name apropos to the imperial designs of this obscene military machine--already have their student deferments ready to file, following the example of our current leaders, many of whom happily avoided the Vietnam War.
Behind this Middle East escapade lurks a cadre of militant Christians, Zionist Jews, and brazen corporate opportunists, all equally embedded in the idea of an Imperialist Grand Design. Yet such Imperial hubris wrecked Napoleon's France, destroyed Hitler's Germany and recently ruined the Soviet Union--bled white in Afghanistan'a dissection ably assisted by our recent Mujahadeen ally, Osama bin Laden. This recent preemptive strike precedent for America is a page taken from the Third Reich playbook. In 1939, the Germans attacked Poland, a fourth-rate military power, having used a phony excursion by Polish soldiers as a ploy for invasion. Our excuse for attacking another fourth-rate power--the search for weapons of mass destruction--worked wonderfully well in Iraq, yet not even Hitler was so draconian as to expose his own troops to the risk of chemical attack or the exposure of depleted uranium. Thus far more than 10,000 American troops who fought in the first Gulf War have died from Gulf War Syndrome, while the House of Representatives voted recently to cut $25 billion from assistance to disabled veterans, according to Veterans For Common Sense.
Truly, the pride over our recent 'victory' in Iraq--while cause for celebration in shortening the war and ridding the world of one dictator--does not lessen but increases the possibility of other preemptive attacks against far more dangerous foes. Hitler pulverized Poland and Belgium but wrecked half the world when he continued his mad designs against stronger opponents. The barbarism of conquered Baghdad mirrors the Nazi blueprint for dealing with foreign art and culture: Loot the art and burn the culture. Yet even The German High command never allowed or conspired in the wholesale eradication of French culture to the degree the American Army appeared to do in Baghdad. Reporter Robert Fisk stated in an interview, 'We claim that we want to preserve the national heritage of the Iraqi people, and yet my own count of government buildings burning in Baghdad before I left was 158, of which the only building protected by the United States Army and the Marines were the Ministry of Interior . . . and the Ministry of Oil.' Fisk also noted, 'The looting was on a most detailed, precise and coordinated scale . . . and within a few days those priceless heritage items of Iraq's history (those not destroyed by systematic arson) were on sale in Europe and in America. I don't believe that happened by chance.' The Nazis, great plunderers of European art, would have been envious of the speed and cohesion of the entire operation. Understandably, they would have been aghast at the waste, however.
Will our soldiers soon be sporting 'God With Us' belt buckles over protective, Darth Vader body armor, wielding depleted uranium weapons in the Cradle of Civilization? How many My Lai-style atrocities'already occurring as I write this--or Beirut-type barracks bombings will we accept before we realize our occupation in Iraq is West Bank supersized? Before we commit too many more American troops to the Middle East--future victims of suicide shock and awe bombings or civilian slaughters like the one that happened in al-Fallujah--God-fearing American citizens should ask whether this Bush administration plans to continue expanding this empire at the point of a gun. Truthfully, to the rest of the world, we already are the New Nazis.