This originally appeared at Antiwar.com on May 4, 2015
It’s been 45 years since draft-deferred Ohio National Guardsmen aimed their M-1 rifles and .45 pistols at unarmed Ken State College students, killing four and wounding nine on May 4, 1970. You have to be well into middle age now to remember that day. My memory is stirred whenever I look at three photos: John Filo’s striking shot of teenager Mary Ann Vecchio on her knees weeping as she bends over student Jeffrey Miller’s body, I photo I took of Jeffrey’s grieving mother for a magazine my son Alex once edited, and a picture of two of the forever crippled in wheelchairs, KSU student Dean Kahler and wounded Marine Vietnam vet Ron Kovic of Born on the Fourth of July fame.
On the 41st anniversary of the shootings in 2011, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the state’s largest newspaper, concluded, “There has never been a completely satisfactory explanation for why the Guard fired.” In fact, it went on, “The central unresolved question in the Kent State affair has been why several dozen Ohio Guardsmen pivoted in unison and fired” and for 13 agonizing seconds killed and wounded so many of their peers. The previous year the paper had reported the finding of an audio recording where a Guard office was said to shout, “All right, prepare to fire.” This led to an editorial urging the state to take another look “and give full account of that tragic day.”
It was all reminiscent of that historic American milestone in 2004 when President George W. Bush, wearing an Air Force suit that made him resemble a genuine combat veteran, stood proudly on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner triumphantly heralding another "Mission Accomplished" for the world’s "indispensable" nation.
So too in November 2015 when Ashton (Ash) Carter, our Defense Secretary, was on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt warning the Chinese that the US means business if they dare interfere with freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and our domination of the region now and into the future.
The US had recently dispatched a guided missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese islet in the Spratly Archipelago, some of whose barren and rocky islets are claimed by the Chinese but also by other Southeastern Asian nations who expect the US military and its "boots on the ground" to fight and if necessary die on their behalf in the event of war.
"Teddy Roosevelt’s presence there and our visit is a symbol of our commitment to our rebalance [to Asia] and the importance of the Asia-Pacific to the United States," Carter declared, somehow overlooking that the real Teddy loved war, I mean he LOVED it, that is until his son died in WWI.
“There is a holy mistaken zeal in politics as well as in religion. By persuading others, we convince ourselves,” or so said the forgotten English writer Junius in the mid-18th Century. When I read his words the other day I was reminded of other situations where ideology and ignorance of history replaced reason.
Operation Unthinkable is one of many such examples, a loonie scheme hatched in early 1945 by Winston Churchill. Exhausted by six years of war, drinking heavily, with a loathing for his Soviet nemesis — though he once told Field Marshal Montgomery he and Stalin could resolve all their problems if only they met weekly over dinner fortified with an ample supply of scotch and vodka.
Churchill wanted to forgive the Nazis and instead have 100,000 of their Wehrmacht troops link up with the British and Americans to attack the victorious Red Army as it sped toward Berlin and therefore “impose the will of the Western Allies on the Soviets.” The plan was clearly insane and unenforceable yet Churchill ordered the British Armed Forces Joint Planning Staff to develop his idea until rational members of his inner circle said No. Continue reading “The Blind Leading the Blind: Everyone’s Middle Eastern Madness.”
The struggle over the Iran Agreement reminds me of the seventeen years I spent as editor of Present Tense, a liberal Jewish-oriented magazine, published by the American Jewish Committee.
In 1990, we featured a detailed investigative piece, "Speaking for the Jews." Our cover blurb read: "A growing number of American Jews, including many inside the Jewish establishment, are fed up with the hard-line views of Jewish leaders whom they did not elect and who, in any case, do not speak for them." Some members of The Lobby were quite upset and Present Tense was shut down soon after for debatable reasons. Even so, the article’s writer, Robert Spero, and the magazine’s editors, were absolutely on target in 1990 and even more so today. In short, the Israel Lobby doesn’t speak for American Jews.
In addition to the fabrications and fantasies concocted by PM Netanyahu’s Israel and endlessly repeated by his followers, it is that for the first time in memory a foreign country – Israel – is publicly fighting an American president’s foreign policy on American soil. Israel’s allies include Obama-hating Republicans, intimidated, largely Jewish, Democratic politicians, and Bibi-supporting Jewish and Christian Zionist lobbies – none of whom have ever offered any lucid or rational alternatives, and many of them empowered by a few mega-rich and hawkish American Jews.
Years ago, after Richard Nixon had resigned and gone into temporary exile, my boss introduced me to Sam Dash, the former Senate Watergate Committee’s chief counsel. I remember asking Dash if he thought we had heard the last of Nixon. “Never!” he answered. “He’ll always be around, with people attacking and defending him.”
First there were those devastatingly dark TV portraits, then the well-publicized David Frost interviews for which he received $600,000 according to Tim Weiner, plus an additional $2 million for his ghosted memoirs. Rick Cleveland’s well-received new play, “Five Presidents,” has our five living ex-Presidents gathering in Yorba Linda for his funeral. Gerald Ford arrives early at the Presidential Library and Museum and finds himself staring at a photo of Nixon. He then asks a Secret Service agent not to leave. “I’m not sure I want to be left alone with him,” says the accidental President who saved Nixon from time in Leavenworth. Continue reading “Review of Tim Weiner’s “One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon””
The maligned Warren Harding commuted Eugene V. Debs’ prison sentence and then invited the socialist anti-war felon to join him for breakfast in the White House. Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, who otherwise might have landed in Leavenworth. George H.W. Bush pardoned Elliott Abrams after Iran-Contra. Bill Clinton, neither moralistnor saint, pardoned the fugitive crook Marc Rich. Barack Obama, who forgave all our chicken hawks, neocons, and torture lovers who lied us into Iraq, has offered not one word of understanding about the hard choices taken by Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning except to say he didn’t “think Mr. Snowden was a patriot” and that Manning “broke the law.” Continue reading ““Stop Watching Us”: Who Get Pardoned?”