by Winslow Myers Common Dreams Sept. 1, 2013
Lord have mercy, a half-century beyond the Cuban Missile Crisis and almost as many years beyond Vietnam, our leaders are still mouthing stale clichés about “credibility.” Remember Rusk saying we went eyeball to eyeball with the Soviets and they blinked? Of course the world almost ended, but never mind. And some historians surmise that Truman dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki not to force Japanese surrender, but to make ourselves more threateningly credible to the expansionist Soviets.
Credibility was the main motif of Secretary of State Kerry’s statement rationalizing possible military action against Syria. If we’re going to kill a few thousand non-combatants in the next few days or weeks, could we not do it for some better reason than maintaining to the world that we are not a pitiful helpless giant?
John Kerry began his political career with electrifyingly refreshing testimony opposing the Vietnam War, a war pursued on the basis that if we did not maintain a credible presence in Southeast Asia, country after country would fall to the Commies, ultimately the Chinese Commies.
Only a day before Secretary Kerry’s rationalizations, we listened to our first black president commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The truth-force of Martin Luther King seemed to hover above Obama like a tired and angry ghost, because any person with half a brain could feel the cognitive dissonance between the president’s mealy-mouthed obeisance to the mythology of King’s non-violence, and the hellish violence soon to be visited upon Damascus from our cruise missiles. Mr. Obama, Mr. Kerry, surely you cannot have forgotten how steadfastly King stood against militarism and foreign adventures.
Our missiles will unleash stupid, unnecessary, hypocritical violence. Stupid violence because it extends yet further the hatred that so many in the Middle East feel for our crudely righteous meddling. Unnecessary violence, because the resolution of the civil war in Syria will not come one whit closer on account of our missiles. There are now too many conflicts folded into the Syrian tangle, the Shia-Sunni conflict, the Iran-Israeli conflict, even the proxy Russian-American conflict. Hypocritical violence, in view of the U.S. military’s own indiscriminate use of depleted uranium in the Iraq war—and our government’s eagerness to look the other way when Saddam, back when he was our ally, gassed Kurds and Iranians. Hypocritical violence also because It is not gas that is uniquely horrific. It is war itself.
When will my country begin to enhance its credibility for “living out the true meaning of its creed”? The worldwide equality of humans, their equal right to life and liberty and happiness, is threatened by political shibboleths like “credibility,” especially coming from a nation that possesses vast piles of weapons of mass destruction that could make death by Sarin gas look like a family picnic. This kind of credibility is incredible.
We have forgotten the kind of credibility slowly but steadily built up by Dag Hammarskjold, the second Secretary-General of the U.N., the first person to undertake endless, patient shuttle diplomacy as a better solution than war. Hammarskjold lived a consistent, impartial ethic bent upon steadfastly reconciling the interests of nations with the interests of the human family. Oh that my country could be led by stout hearts like King and Hammarskjold. They were giants of credibility. [Abridged]
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