The Nazis launched unprovoked wars of aggression and despoiled whole nations. So do we now; who cares? The Gestapo and the KGB snatched people from the street and held them without charges in secret prisons, tortured them with brute force and with exquisitely calibrated techniques approved by the highest authorities. So do we now; who cares? The Soviets spied without qualm or restraint on their own people, no warrants needed, no evidence required, just a nod from some faceless official in the security organs. So do we now; who cares? The Nazis believed that the national leader is beyond the law, that any order he gives is rightful and just and cannot be punished, simply because he has given it. So do we now; who cares? The Soviets and the Nazis treated protests against the established order as security threats and acts of terror, and repressed them with mass arrests and police violence. So do we now; who cares?
All of these things, and many more besides, have been done and are being done by the government of the United States today, with either the full-throated approval or the meek acquiescence of the political opposition and the nation's institutions. The people too seem largely in agreement, or completely indifferent. We have just finished a primary campaign in which tens of millions of people voted for candidates who support the system described above in almost every particular--quibbling about some of the details and tactics perhaps, but expressing absolutely no dissent from its basic premises.
The two major candidates left standing after this appalling process are as similar in policy and philosophy as it is possible to be and still maintain a semblance of "choice" in the election. Both support the continuance and expansion of the "War on Terror." Both pledge to use massive, lethal, violent force, at any time, anywhere in the world--with no options, not even the nuclear one, taken "off the table"--in the service of ever-nebulous and self-defined "national security" interests. Both support the warrantless surveillance of American citizens, and immunity for vast conglomerates that collaborate with the state in blatantly illegal activity. Both believe that even those who have not committed murder can be executed by the state. (And neither has said a single word about the shame of America's prison system: more than 2 million people behind bars, more than any other nation on earth, in both sheer numbers and proportionately, and rivaled historically in those numbers only by Stalin's gulag at the height of the purges.)
Howard Zinn joins in:
This is an empire which is on the one hand the most powerful empire that ever existed; on the other hand an empire that is crumbling--an empire that has no future because it is top-heavy with military commitments, with bases around the world, and with the exhaustion of its own resources at home.
If there is any hope, the hope lies in the American people. It lies in American people becoming resentful enough and indignant enough over what has happened to their country, over the loss of dignity in the world, over the starving of human resources in the United States, the starving of education and health, the takeover of the political mechanism by corporate power and the result this has on the everyday lives of the American people.- Advertisement -
I think all of this may very well build up into a movement of rebellion. I think we may well see, if the United States keeps heading in the same direction, a new popular movement. That is the only hope for the United States.
I think also, people in the rest of the world should know that what they see in Iraq now is really a continuation of a long, long term of American imperial expansion in the world.
It has never been a benign power, from the very first, from the American Revolution, from the taking-over of Indian land, from the Mexican war, the Spanish-American war. It is embarrassing to say, but we have a long history in this country of violent expansion and I think not only do most people in other countries [not] know this, most Americans don't know this.
It is hard to see hope (for change) because these Americans who feel that way have been shut out of the communications system, so their voices are not heard, they are not seen on the television screen, but they exist.
For the United States to begin to be a positive influence in the world we are going to have to have a new political leadership that is sensitive to the needs of the American people, and those needs do not include war and aggression.
It must also be sensitive to the needs of people in other parts of the world, sensitive enough to know that American resources, instead of being devoted to war, should be devoted to helping people who are suffering.- Advertisement -