The Battle of Yorktown
The Battle of Yorktown was the engagement, which finally concluded the American War of Independence. It was fought between the American forces led by George Washington and his French allies led by the Comte de Rochambeau and the British and ‘Hessians’ or German mercenaries led by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis.
Basically, the British forces were hemmed in at Chesapeake Bay. De Grasse with the French fleet had blockaded the Bay. He had left his Spanish allies to cover bases in the Caribbean and brought his entire fleet north and defeated a smaller British fleet partly by a ruse. There was no way out by sea for Cornwallis.
The French and American land forces united north of New York and, at first, it seemed as if that city was the goal of their campaign. Indeed, it is still unclear whether Washington was serious about his intention to take New York. Like most great commanders, he may have liked to keep his options open to the last moment. At any rate, he began his celebrated march south. All care was taken that the British would not guess the purpose of the march. Scouts were sent out with misleading reports and Washington spent time at his own mansion.
The troops duly arrived and took the British outer defenses on October 14th 1781. There was some fierce fighting and at one point Cornwallis attempted to sail in retreat to the other side of the Bay and was beaten back by a squall. However, by the 17th October, the strategic situation was lost and the British sued for terms, which they received on the 19th. Cornwallis did not himself take the surrender but left it to his junior, the Earl of Connaught, whose sword Washington refused to accept. A number of other insults were directed at the British but nothing worse than that. Wars in the eighteenth century were fought by mercenaries and the defeated army was disbanded and sometimes enrolled in one’s own.
It had been a long road from the Battle of New York, which started the war to the Battle of Yorktown, which finished it. The opening engagement also had almost finished the war. The British had had sea mobility and deployed all around New York so Washington had been lucky to extricate himself and his men and march them into Pennsylvania. Peace was now concluded at the Treaty of Paris in 1783. It is important to realize just how small the population of the nascent republic was. Probably, it was a mere 250,000 spread over a huge area of eastern seaboard and also far inland. At the Battle of Yorktown probably eighty-eight American and French died for a hundred and fifty-six British dead. Casualties were insignificant in comparison with the wars in Europe.
Yorktown closed the War of Independence. However, it was really part of a whole era in which the American colonies or United States wrested their independence from Britain. The prelude to the War of Independence had been the French and Indian War, which started around 1755 and concluded in February 1763. The whole of North America apart from New Orleans was seceded to the British. However, George lll wanted to stop the colonists settling west of the Mississippi-Ohio line, set up buffer states of Indian tribes and raise taxes in the colonies to pay for an expensive war. Thirteen years later, the US was in revolt.
New Orleans played a vital strategic role in the trade of the early colonies since it plied down the entire Mississippi Valley catch water. Jefferson entered into negotiations with Napoleon to buy New Orleans and to his surprise was offered the Louisiana Purchase of 828,800 square miles. It encompassed fifteen US states and doubled the size of the US. It should be remembered, of course, that the area had to be colonized but, at least, the French threat was gone.
The new Republic was now expanding in all directions. It had expanded to the Mississippi-Ohio line. Now, it was expanding to the south and west. At the same time, the threat from other European States had to be feared.
First and foremost, the threat from Britain had to be tackled anew. It was time to fight what has sometimes been called ‘The Second War of Independence’ or the War of 1812. America declared war for a number of reasons. They wanted to expand into the ‘North-West Territory’ or the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Britain had imposed trade restrictions due to its war with France and America contested its right to impose restrictions on a neutral nation. Britain also supported Indian tribes as a buffer to American expansion. Finally, the Royal Navy was impressing men who, they said, were of British origin, deserters etc. and refusing to recognize that America could grant citizenship. It was especially the depletion of the American merchant fleet, by then the biggest neutral commercial navy, which angered the Americans.
Until 1814, the British adopted a defensive posture due to commitments in Europe but in the following year carried out a series of daring raids most notably the ‘burning of Washington’, which, as the name suggests, was a blow to national pride as well as the razing of a major city. However, American victories repulsed the British at New York, Baltimore and New Orleans. The Battle of New Orleans in 1815 was won by General Andrew Jackson, who became a national hero at the end of the war.
The end of the War of 1812 was also the final end of hostilities between Britain and the US and ushered in a long period of trade and co-operation between the two countries throughout the nineteenth century and on to today. The little Republic with 250,000 people sparsely scattered along the eastern seaboard expanded to fill a Continent. The germs of the seeds of expansion lay primarily in the War of Independence, which was concluded by the Battle of Yorktown with which we began. However, although the core of Independence was the War, the Declaration of Independence, the new Constitution etc., it is also the case that the whole of the second half of the eighteenth century on into the nineteenth century sees the young US being forged in a series of wars. At the start of the nineteenth century, the stage is set for the great westward expansion.
It is tempting to look East to see what was happening in India, England’s other major colony. In the early part of the eighteenth century, the East Indian Company had established small footholds but from the middle of the eighteenth century and the breakup of the Moghul Empire, entire kingdoms were conquered. Great armies, albeit of sepoys or mercenary Indian troops, were employed to occupy territories. India was densely populated and immensely wealthy with a valuable trade. Perhaps for these reasons, Britain hung on to India and loosened her grip on a society of backwoodsmen, who gave no signs of being the America we know today.
The Flame of Libery
The liberty bell struck a loud joyous ring
When we set apart from a tyrannical king.
Patrick Henry shouted liberty or death,
In a musty hall filled with freedom's breath.
Taxation for a colony that paid for Britain's pleasure
Was certainly unacceptable by any measure.
Fairness we declared, without war in mind,
But deaf ears gave us an uncompromising bind.
The surrender at Yorktown put an end to the reign
The sword of Cornwallis was surrendered in shame.
Wall street was filled with patriots and soldiers,
To hear Washington speak, the weight lifted from his shoulders.
On a warm summer day, Adams and Jefferson passed away,
On the 4th of July, fifty years to the day.
We live to preserve our inalienable rights,
And think back to soldiers who died in those fights.
On Forgotten History
From musket sprays to cannon waves
Echoes cry out from silent graves
From gunners grips to cold steel ships
The generals cry out from silent lips
Did they ever know their fate was so clear?
Even brave hearts of courage play with fear
Arlington knows the courage it keeps
Buried below where the soldier sleeps
The battles still rage in a veteran's soul
Louder than a lecture hall's picture show.
We hear of the past with ageless depiction,
But hold of its essence as though it were fiction
Wrestling Angels and Chimeras
The United States is, of course, the last, best defense of everything that is good, wholesome and sacred in the world. Everyone knows this (except, incomprehensibly, our enemies). And as every American Joe indubitably knows, Muslims despise our values and long to deprive us of our freedoms because they’re all "terrorists" and "religious fanatics." If the CIA doesn’t track down and kill every last one of them, Islamic jihadists will soon rule the world, as the goody-goody-two-shoes Christian nations topple like rows of dominoes.
According to this insane "logic," all Muslims are Islamic jihadists, so we have no choice but to obliterate 1.8 billion Muslims or become their slaves.
Why God would allow the apples of his eye to succumb to nonbelievers is, of course, one of the many unanswerable mysteries enshrouded within the many scintillant "truths" of Christianity.
Of course not so very long ago, all American Joes indubitably knew the Christian nations would topple like rows of dominoes if South Vietnam fell to godless communists. Due to an amazing bit of luck, that didn’t happen . . . or was it, perhaps, that the "Domino Theory" was wrong all along?
But wait just a friggin’ second! The Domino Theory was the reason we fought the Vietnam War. If the Domino Theory was wrong all along, then the war was unnecessary, wasn’t it?
Since the end of World War II, the government of the United States has been wrestling angels and chimeras. Communism failed to produce a single viable automobile. Remember the Yugo? How were communists going to "take over the world" when their industries were so noncompetitive the only Russian brand names known to most Americans were those of Vodka distillers?
And how, pray tell, are Islamic jihadists going to "take over the world" when Muslim nations don’t have the navies, air forces or amphibious transports required to launch large-scale invasions? The U.S. navy is larger than the next 13 largest navies in the world, combined. The second most powerful air force in the world is the U.S. navy's. The danger is not that our enemies are super-powerful, but that we are using our super-powers for nefarious purposes, the way Nazi Germany did. Of course the German people were utterly convinced that they were the "good guys" just because they were Germans. Now Americans are convinced that Americans are the good guys, just because.
Joe Public is incapable of reflection or logic. In order to help him understand the way things really are, I have written him a brief parable called "Bubba’s Dilemma" . . .
Osama bin Laden has said that Americans will suffer as long as Palestinian women and children continue to suffer. What can he possibly mean? How can he not understand that Americans are the good guys?
Perhaps Americans might "get" bin Laden if we rephrased things like this: "Bubba, think of the biggest, baddest man you know: the one you’d never want to tangle with in a million years. Now, what would happen if you beat and humiliated his mother, wife, sisters and children on a daily basis?"
"Duh, he’d kick my stupid butt!"
Exactly, Bubba. Now you get the picture.
Men like Osama bin Laden will never accept the bizarre idea that Jews and Americans should be allowed to abuse Palestinians because God "loves" Jews and Christians and it is their "Manifest Destiny" to tell other people where and how to live, and die. Muslims know full well what "Manifest Destiny" did to Native Americans who walked the Trail of Tears, to Australian aborigines, and to Africans who became American slaves.
Osama bin Laden "gets" it, Bubba. You’re the one with ADD.
It’s time to "get a clue," Bubba. If you care about your women and children, tell your moronic "government" to stop harming Muslim women and children. It really is that simple.
To The Point
hidden secrets exposed
wallpaper stripped cracks sealed
fresh basecoat applied
No Holds Bard
Life grows funnier each serious moment if we learn how to laugh hilariously at our ridiculous self.
No Holds Bard
Richard Henry Combs:cont'd col 2
A REAL WINNER
I’m eight years old and in the second grade. If I hadn’t been held back I would have been in the third, and I’m pretty sure that means that I would now be nine instead of eight. I’m a little confused about that.
My mom said that I had been held back to allow me time to adjust. Grungy Wilson, my best friend, said I had been held back because I’m stupid. Who knows? One thing for sure though, I caught up quick. I’m one of the best readers in my class.
We call Timothy Wilson “Grungy,” because he always has dirty socks. One day, when he took his shoes off I noticed his feet smelled like my Grandma’s mildewey basement. My dad said Grungy’s dad is a drunk. I guess a drunk is someone who doesn’t wash their kid’s clothes.
I told my mom that Dad had called Grungy’s dad a drunk. She said that for Dad to call anybody a drunk was like Pinocchio saying the boy who cried wolf was a liar.
One day at school I got to thinking about my dad.
There’s no doubt about one thing, he’s a real winner. I know that’s true because that’s what my mom always says. When Dad’s running around the house bragging about how he’s gonna make a lot of dough, or do something big, she always says, “Yeah, sure George, we all know you’re a real winner.”
Sometimes my dad talks to me about Mom, and how he feels bad about letting us down and all, and how he’s gonna really get rocking one of these days, and then we’ll all see how smart he is. I told him I didn’t want him to do anything different. I liked him okay just the way he was. But I could tell he wasn’t really listening, because he just rubbed my head. When he rubs my head it usually means he’s thinking about something else.
Last week, late one night, when I got out of bed to use the bathroom, I heard the front door open. I peeked around the corner and saw him sort of stumble in. He was acting kind of funny. As soon as he got in the house my mom started fussing at him, and as he headed for their bedroom he mumbled, “I’ll show you, Dorothy, I’m gonna really make it, starting tomorrow.”
My mom hollered, “Oh yeah, George. I’m well aware of the fact that you’re a real winner.”
The next day I heard him and my mom arguing about the fact that my dad was out of work. She said she was really concerned about how we were going to pay the rent and all that. She kept asking him when he was going to get a job. Evidently, she wasn’t satisfied with his answer because she said that he was just goofing around and not really getting anything done.
Then one day, they had a big fight and my mom made my dad move out. He was gone for a few days. Then she let him back in, but he was still out of work. I was pretty unhappy about the whole situation. I was really glad when he came back home, but it wasn’t the same around our house. It seemed that they both were always mad about stuff. I wanted everything to be like it used to be.
One day at school, Miss Woods, my teacher, looked at me and said, “Brian, come with me. Your dad is here and wants to talk to you.”
My dad was standing by the principal’s office.
“Brian, how would you like to go on a little trip to Cedarville?” he asked me. Cedarville is in Kentucky and it’s my dad’s hometown. It’s about four hundred or so miles from where we live in Detroit.
As much as I like school, I like to take trips with my dad even more, especially to Cedarville, because my dad buys me stuff, and I always get money from my aunts.
We rode in a 1998 Pontiac, that dad borrowed from some guy. Man that was cool. All the other times that we visited Kentucky we had hitchhiked. My dad had a sort of follow-through with his hand when we were hitchhiking. When somebody would drive past he’d move his thumb in the direction of the passing car and replace it with his middle finger. When I told my mom about it she said that wasn’t nice and, yes, everyone knew that George was a real winner.
We pulled into a country store and loaded up on stuff that my mom would call junk, candy and all that. It was a great day and everything smelled real clean. Dad said football was in the air.
Richard Henry Combs:|
A REAL WINNER
He got to talking about some money that he had coming to him from his aunts, and he kept saying that there was going to be a showdown. He claimed he was tired of messing around. The only problem, he explained, was our Aunt Violet. She could be cantankerous as hell, according to him. I wanted to ask him why he and Mom couldn’t get along the way they used to, but all he wanted to do was blab about getting his money.
He kept repeating himself. First he’d say something like, “By God this is it, I’m going to get that long green this time. Your mom is really gonna change her mind about me when she feasts her eyes on all that cabbage.” I could tell that he was really trying to make Mom happy. It made me feel really great thinking that maybe we were gonna be a normal family again.
But then he’d change his mind and say, “Hell, we might as well head on back home, that damned Violet will never agree to giving me what’s coming to me.” By the time we reached Cedarville I was pretty confused, and Dad had talked himself into a bleak mood. I guessed he was finally convinced that there was no way Violet would ever agree to give him anything, and he would be left out in the cold as always. It was a pretty sad deal in the old Pontiac. Dad kept saying he didn’t know whether to forget the whole damn thing or go for the jugular, whatever that was. We got to Cedarville and went to Aunt Violet’s. Then I was pretty tired, so after eating I went to bed. Before I went to sleep I thought about Grungy.
Grungy and I were the same age, and were born within a day of one another. I sort of grinned as I thought of his smile. Grungy’s two front teeth are absent, and when he smiles, the way his upper lip stretches across the cavity and all, I always think of the entrance to the old railroad tunnel outside of town. My dad said Grungy has summer teeth—some are here and some are there. Grungy said he really liked it when his parents had a fight, because after they made up they all went to McDonald’s. Grungy sure did like McDonald’s.
The next morning we went around to all the relatives, and just about everybody gave me loot. I guess Dad decided to go for the jugular, because later that day he told me that he got his money and everything was going to be alright. He said he wanted to get an early start in the morning. That didn’t surprise me. My dad always wanted to get an early start when we were ready to leave Cedarville. By the time I went to bed I had twenty-two dollars.
We took off the next day and my dad didn’t stop all the way back to Detroit, only when it was necessary. Right before we got back home he snapped his fingers and said, “damn,” as if he’d forgotten something. Then he pulled a roll of bills out, and peeled off a couple, which he stuck in his back pocket. He told me to keep quiet about him hiding any money.
We got home that evening and, as usual when we returned from trips to Cedarville, Mom was mad. When we got in the house she started in on Dad, telling him that she thought it was a bad idea for him to take me out of school and all that. I did notice though, that she seemed to brighten up when he handed her that roll of cash. Maybe now that she had some loot, things would go back to being the way they used to be, and we’d all be happy again. After Dad gave her the money he headed toward the back of the house. As he went he said, “That’s not all Dorothy, I’m gonna really get things rolling around here.”
“Yeah, sure, George, the whole world knows that you’re a real winner.”
David Lawrence, Ph.D.:
AN INCANDESCENT BULB IN OBAMA’S HEAD
Obama is sucked in by every utopian idea that floats across his desk. He backs cap and trade, green chimeras and restricting drilling. He is a proponent of spending fortunes on high speed rail and electric, plug-in cars.
Obama is Don Quixote chasing after windmills to absurdly supply our need for energy. He is riding with his faithful, flunky, Sancho Panza --Joe Biden. Obama is investing billions of dollars in Brazilian oil while inhibiting oil jobs in America.
He has insisted that all incandescent bulbs be replaced by compact fluorescent bulbs,
even though they are manufactured in China and will cost us jobs. All in the pristine name of “clean” light bulbs. Well, what the hell, let the Chinese be poisoned by these harmful compact fluorescent light bulbs.
And why does Obama do all these silly little things? Democrats boast altruistic purposes. Obama ruins our economy so that polar bears won’t die and glaciers won’t melt in a few hundred years. Forget that the glaciers are growing in Antarctica.
But where are our jobs? How do we resurrect the economy?
Obama rode into office on Quixote’s donkey with the promise that he would fix the economy and provide more jobs. He has totally failed to do either. Our economy is more in debt than ever and unemployment is certainly higher than it was.
Let’s put an old incandescent bulb in Obama’s head. Let him light up to the idea that he should quit selling practical realism down the river for utopian, self-destructive idealism.
The Queen Arrives in Ireland
The plane taxis slowly to a standstill; the red carpet rolls out; and an eighty-five year old lady dithers down the steps to a sprightly twain of national anthems, the British and the Irish. The Queen has arrived in Ireland. The first British monarch to go there since 1911. And even then, that’s too soon for many. On 14th May, the day before the Queen’s arrival, there was a bomb scare, which disrupted Central London, especially the area around Buckingham Palace and on the day she arrived in Dublin, the Garda or Irish police found a bomb on a coach. Otherwise, demonstrators protested and burned the British flag. Solemnly, the Queen inspects the Guard of Honor drawn up on the tarmac in company with Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister.
The cortege then quickly decamped in the direction of the President’s Mansion, where Mary MacAleese, Ireland’s President, welcomed the Queen to luncheon along with British and Irish officials. Present were also representatives of Northern Ireland such as First Minister (Prime Minister) David Trimble and SDLP leader John Hume as well as Irish novelist Edna O’Brian. HRH Queen Elizabeth was ready to lay a wreath at Remembrance Garden, central Dublin. It would be the start of a four-day tour of exciting engagements. Such as a visit to the Guinness brewery. It is unlikely that the Queen will quaff a pint since her champagne-attuned taste-buds are not up to it – though many elderly ladies in Britain swear that Guinness keeps them regulated. Generally, the venues seem to have been chosen for their connection to the Easter Rising of 1916 including Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, scene of bloody cross-fire between British troops and rebels, which puts one in mind of this seminal week of Irish history. In honor of Ireland, too, the Queen landed in an emerald green outfit with matching head apparel. (The Hat had arrived.)
She had the Duke in tow. However, more importantly she was being accompanied by the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, for the three days of the visit and on the last day the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was due to join her. This, of course, is the political ‘meat’ of the visit and high on the agenda, you can bet, will be Ulster or Northern Ireland. Responsibility for the province is now regulated by the Anglo-Irish Agreement, whereby the two states guarantee peace and prosperity in a semi-autonomous mini-state. It is not long since there was Civil War there and the British are anxious that Ulster should not relapse into that state again. Otherwise, we do not know what the British and Irish representatives will have discussed.
The whole security operation, which includes patrols on land, sea and air is costing €30 m or £26.2 m (1€ = $1.4; £1 = $1.6) and there will be a ‘ring of steel’ in central Dublin. Many have protested that it is too expensive for a four-day visit. After all, the Queen’s function is ceremonial and she will merely put the shine on relations. Moreover, at eighty-five, she is not dynamic. However, Britain has a monarch and even at eighty-five, she has to be trotted out from pasture.
It may be asked why the younger Prince Charles could not go instead. It is a widely-known secret that his official visits do not go off well. He makes a bad impression. Always. Even before he arrives, his bad reputation gets there first. Of course, one possible solution to ‘our Charlie’ is to send him to Ireland for good. Then he could be King of Ireland instead of King of England. The last King of England (James ll) to go to Ireland because England had driven him out was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne and it is to be feared that Charlie Boy-O would finish up in some benighted bog, too. No, Britain has as much chance of unloading an English monarch to the Irish as she has of settling him in the States. It was by far a wiser move to send the Queen. For four days. She arrived to an uncertain welcome but like the good guest she is, took care to leave early.
If you travel the long way the right half
of Keystone State, you pass suburban farmlands,
old and new, and see white houses hazy in the distance
with gaping doors and windows; and silos and barns
with rusty roofs and trees that lean in one direction.
And miles of billboards and neon signs, motels,
shopping malls and parking lots, and hillsides of stubble,
and now and then, a few cows aimless in an open field,
or a single horse standing lonely by a fence, watching
passing tractor-trailers and bumper to bumper cars.
And the distant dark and silent mountain ridge that lies
on the horizon a sleeping prehistoric reptile,and high above
a single hawk circling in silence. And you know the farms
were first and the air was clean and the sky blue, and the cows
herded together and the horses free to run without hindrance,
and it gave way to intrapreneurs. And you know indelibly
that little of what we do remains forever the same.
How can we prevent World War III?
How can we prevent World War III? Or is it possible that World War III has already started, and is being waged by Israel and the United States against the Muslim world? I have recently been reading Man in the Shadows by Efraim Halevy, the longtime director of Israel’s national intelligence agency, the Mossad. In his book Halevy sounds as if he believes World War III has already started, with Israel and the U.S. fighting on one side against Hamas and other Islamic extremists.
Did 9-11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq signify the beginning of World War III? I suppose that’s possible, but I don’t think Halevy is the most credible of witness, since his allegiances obviously rest with Israel. To many Israeli Jews, Hamas is the Devil because Hamas forcefully opposes Israel. But Nazi Germany saw Devils everywhere, because many nations opposed Nazi Germany’s expansionism. To the Nazis, Poland was the Devil, as were France, England, Russia, the United States and most of the rest of the world. Why? Because the Nazis wanted to acquire and rule their neighbors’ land, and its neighbors refused to acquiesce.
To people who have studied the history of Israel without succumbing to the prevailing fictions, it seems obvious that Israel has expansionist policies, since Israel has been acquiring land without paying for it since 1948. Such expansionism is bound to put Israel at odds with its Arab neighbors, so let’s put a question mark beside Halevy’s suggestion that the world is at war with Hamas. It seems more likely that Israel is at war with Hamas because Israel has been ethnically cleansing Palestinians while taking their land without paying for it, which is bound to create raging hostilities and terrible violence. Texans would fight anyone tooth and nail who tried to occupy Texas with a foreign military and steal their land and natural resources, so let’s not pretend that Arabs are “the bad guys” for not submitting to the occupation of the West Bank and the domination of Gaza by the Israeli military.
Israel’s expansionism has created a world of trouble for the U.S., for reasons that should be obvious to Americans but unfortunately aren’t. The American public is not only profoundly ignorant of the historical facts, but is also profoundly uninterested in anything smacking of the truth. Americans don’t want to hear that Israel has been cynically using the religious beliefs of Christians to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their native land. Americans prefer to “believe” the Bible and rest their brain cells. But the Bible clearly says that Moses, Joshua, Caleb and King David slaughtered defenseless women and children in the process of acquiring the Promised Land without paying for it. Did a loving, compassionate, wise, just God really want multitudes of innocent Palestinian women and children to be raped, enslaved and slaughtered? Apparently so, according to the “chosen few” who gave us the Old Testament. Now something very similar is happening in modern-day Israel/Palestine, and the gullible American taxpayer is funding this new Holocaust, the Nakba (Arabic for “Catastrophe”). The result, unless we come to our senses soon, is likely to be thousands or millions of Americans dying in World War III.
What will so many Americans die for? Unbelievably, the right of Jewish robber barons to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and steal their land. What did Americans get in return? Not a damn thing but war and bankruptcy.
Should American believe in a God who wants equality and peace, or a God who demands ethnic cleansing and war? According to the current policies of the U.S. government, it seems God must be an intolerant bigot who despises Palestinian babies to the extent of allowing them to be stripped of all human rights and dignity, while loving Jewish and American babies to death, literally.
If Americans want peace ...
Ten years after 9-11, most Americans still have no idea why we were attacked. This has led to confusion, paranoia and irrational ideas such as “Muslims hate our ‘values’ and want to take over the world.”
But Muslim nations lack the navies, air forces and troop transports required to take over a single Western nation, much less the U.S. Our navy is larger than the next 13 largest navies in the world combined. The second most powerful air force in the world is our navy’s. We have thousands of nukes. No nation on earth can invade us or take us over. So why are Americans consumed by irrational fears?
Osama bin Laden and other men who planned and executed the 9-11 attacks clearly explained why they attacked us. They attacked us for two primary reasons:
- They identified with millions of Palestinians who have suffered at the hands of the governments of Israel and the U.S. ever since the Nakba (“Catastrophe”) of 1948.
- They are deeply suspicious of the motives of our government and want American troops removed from the Middle East.
Ironically, in these two ideas lie the seeds of peace, if only Americans were able to think rationally. If we could put aside the mindset that only the suffering and deaths of Americans matter, and realize that the suffering and deaths of Muslim women and children really do matter to Muslim men, we might discover the basis for a lasting peace.
If we want peace, we need to understand three very important things:
- Every attempt of the U.S. government to “secure” Middle Eastern oil fields has only caused the price of oil to skyrocket. We could have saved trillions of dollars by simply paying the going price for oil.
- Our government’s support of Israel’s racial injustices has made peace impossible. We need to require Israel to do what Americans did ourselves, when we abandoned Jim Crow laws and kangaroo courts, by establishing nonracist laws and courts. We have everything to lose and nothing to gain if millions of Palestinians are denied equal rights and justice on our watch.
- There are nearly two billion Muslims who long for peace, equality and justice, just as we do. But they will never accept the strange idea that Jews and Christians can tell them how to live and die. So if we want peace, we need to practice what we preach: equal rights and justice for everyone, not just the “chosen few.” In other words, we need to do abroad what we did at home.
We may need a “Monroe Doctrine” for the Middle East, to protect Muslims from over-zealous Jews and Christians who always think they know best, when their own nations need serious attention and improvements. Israel in particular is a cauldron of government-sanctioned racial injustices, with giant apartheid walls and “Jewish only” roads and settlements deep inside the occupied West Bank. Why should any non-Jewish person or state trust Israel and the U.S., as long as they combine to deny equal rights and justice to millions of innocents? We should admit our mistakes and stop trying to dominate a region that has suffered because of our government’s injustices and hypocrisy.
And I think we also need a “Reagan Doctrine” that keeps the U.S. out of decade-long, trillion-dollar ground wars. Ronald Reagan bombed Tripoli and sent the terrorists who attacked Americans a strong message, but he was wise enough to know that occupying Libya and trying to establish a “democracy” there was a fool’s errand, so he didn’t even try. When American marines on a peacekeeping mission were attacked and killed in Lebanon, Reagan kept us out of that ground war too. A ground war waged on someone else’s turf is bound to be bloody and expensive, as the natives join forces to repel people they see as foreign invaders. And there is no dishonor in retreating to save lives on both sides, when a war can’t possibly be won. When we pulled out of Vietnam, the North Vietnamese didn’t try to “take over the world.” If we pull out of Afghanistan, the Taliban is not going to try to “take over the world.” Terrorist organizations can create a lot of mayhem, but they have no ability to “take over the world” because they don’t have the armies, air forces or navies conquering the world would require. Hell, the U.S. can’t subdue a small, relatively backward nation like Afghanistan after ten years of trying. So what are the odds that a handful of terrorists are going to “take over the world”? Part of the Reagan Doctrine I propose might be to issue terrorist organizations a stern warning that any use of nuclear weapons or other WMDs against the U.S. will be paid back in kind, ten- or a hundred-fold. Then we should have a stalemate, at worst. But there’s no reason for the elephant to panic if it’s threatened by a mouse.
When Tripoli was bombed, a friend of mine insisted that Libya would retaliate. I pointed out that Libya had blown up a plane and a nightclub, but we had just bombed Libya’s capital city. Since we had many planes and nightclubs, and Libya had only one capital, Libya obviously couldn’t afford to keep exchanging blows. The next time we’re attacked by terrorists, we should follow Ronald Reagan’s lead and retaliate without getting involved in ground wars or attempting to establish “democracies” on foreign soil. When terrorists realize that we can’t be lured into ground wars where they have the advantage, they may “wise up.” If not, the cost of a terrorist attack is far less in lives and money than nation-bankrupting wars that in the end accomplish nothing.