Friday, October 02, 2009

Make war, not peace, whenever possible

To the rightwing Republican who, caught in the throes of his childish "My country, right or wrong" dogma, it is tantamount to treason to observe how far the United States has moved away from its founding spiritual roots. To point out that engagement in perpetual wars upon weaker nations, which has now become the norm, is not exactly what the Founders had in mind, is to "blame America."

William Blum describes how the U.S. has not only emerged as the world's major warrior state, but is in the forefront of inducing other nations to turn warmonger. In Ridding the world of the sickness of pacifism, Blum writes about postwar constitutions and social compacts created by other nations, and what became of them.

One of the Articles in post-WWII Germany's new constitution aimed to prevent a return to militaristic behavior. It states: "Acts tending to and undertaken with intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially to prepare for a war of aggression, shall be unconstitutional. They shall be made a criminal offense."

Who knew then that a major player in trying to get Germany to undermine the pacifist sections of its constitution would be that shining "City on a Hill?" In this recent round of American militarism, Germany had refused to send soldiers to Iraq, and sent only non-combat personnel to Afghanistan. Blum tells of the U.S. government's dissatisfaction with this arrangement. He writes:

In January 2007 I wrote in this report about how the US was pushing Germany in this direction; that circumstances at that time indicated that Washington might be losing patience with the pace of Germany's submission to the empire's needs. Germany declined to send troops to Iraq and sent only non-combat forces to Afghanistan, not quite good enough for the Pentagon warriors and their NATO allies. ...

But NATO (aka the United States) can take satisfaction in the fact that the Germans have put their silly pacifism aside and acted like real men, trained military killers .... Deutschland now has more than 4,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, the third largest contingent in the country after the US and Britain, and at home they've just finished building a monument to fallen members of the Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces), founded in 1955; 38 members (so far) have surrendered their young lives in Afghanistan. ...

Ironically, in many other contexts since the end of World War II the Germans have been unable to disassociate themselves from the image of Nazi murderers and monsters. Will there come the day when the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents will be mocked by "the Free World" for living in peace?

And, what about that other former warrior nation, Japan? That country's postwar constitution, in its notable Article 9, states: "Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. ... land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized." Blum claims that these are "words long cherished by a large majority of the Japanese people," and writes:

The United States has also engaged in a decades-long effort to wean Japan away from its post-WW2 pacifist constitution and foreign policy and set it back on the righteous path of again being a military power, only this time acting in coordination with US foreign policy needs. ... Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2004: 'If Japan is going to play a full role on the world stage and become a full active participating member of the Security Council, and have the kind of obligations that it would pick up as a member of the Security Council, Article Nine would have to be examined in that light.'

And then, there's Italy, whose postwar constitution asserts, "Italy rejects war as a means for settling international controversies and as an instrument of aggression against the freedoms of others peoples." Blum observes:

But Washington laid claim early to Italy's post-war soul. In 1948 the United States all but took over the Italian election campaign to insure the Christian Democrats (CD) defeat of the Communist-Socialist candidate. (And the US remained an electoral force in Italy for the next three decades maintaining the CD in power. The Christian Democrats, in turn, were loyal Cold-War partners.) ... For decades, Italy has been the home of US military bases and airfields used by Washington in one military adventure after another from Europe to Asia.

There are now some 3,000 Italian soldiers in Afghanistan performing a variety of services which enables the United States and NATO to engage in their bloody warfare. And 15 Italian soldiers have also lost their lives in that woeful land. The pressure on Italy, as on Germany, to become full-fledged combatants in Afghanistan and elsewhere is unrelenting from their NATO comrades.

None of this is surprising, of course. For a warmaking country that cares little about its own Constitution, why would there be any inclination to respect the enlightened compacts of foreign countries?

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