Dad and Uncle Joe
September 27, 2001
nearly lost his life fighting for Stalin. During World War II Commander
Michael Sobran served on a battleship that was hit by a kamikaze. He watched as
pieces of his men were fished out of the ocean.
To be fair, he didnt know he was
fighting to help Franklin Roosevelt hand ten Christian countries to the Soviet
Union; that obviously wasnt the stated war aim of the U.S. Government,
merely the practical result of Roosevelts eagerness to help his buddy
No, my father and other young men of his
generation were told they were fighting for democracy and freedom; Roosevelt
said they were fighting for the Four Freedoms, including Freedom from Want and
Freedom from Fear. Who would actually get the spoils of victory was never
specified, but the people who wound up under Soviet control never saw any of the
During wartime, rulers or
leaders usually talk in abstractions, which the fighting men
pretty much ignore. People feel they cant afford to be skeptical of the
government while the war rages; skepticism is regarded as treason. The
government becomes us, our tribe, our only security.
The hell of it is that skepticism of
government is seldom more warranted than during war. Thats when
government is most likely to seize the opportunity to expand its powers and crack
down on individual liberty, generally with the support of the majority. If the
government bombs cities abroad while lying to its own people at home, well, these
things are often necessary in wartime, arent they?
We are already seeing this mentality emerge
in the current war on terrorism. Skeptics are now accused of being
anti-American or tarred as the hate-America crowd.
Some of my own readers tell me Im a traitor for saying that our own
government got us into this mess; they invite me to find another country to live in,
preferably an Arab one. Were already at, or approaching, the
Now is the time to exercise freedom of speech
while we still have it. Ive said all along that our government was
making enemies, many of whom would be civilized people with just grievances,
while others would be ruthless, clever, and vengeful fanatics. And now that the
latter have been heard from, and our rulers are overreacting the way rulers
generally do, were supposed to clam up?
No thanks. I dont want
my sons to go through what their grandfather went through. I dont want
another generation of American boys to be sacrificed on the altar of government,
alias freedom and democracy.
anti-Americanism to warn your country against repeating the tragic
errors of the past. Its patriotism. And real patriotism means facing your
own potentially fatal weaknesses.
The idea that history is tragedy is not
to the American taste, William Pfaff wrote recently. He is not the first to
make this observation. Time and again we have plunged into wars with reckless
optimism, failing to ask ourselves the simple question: What could go wrong?
That men set off a course of events
they can neither calculate nor control, wrote the Shakespeare critic A.C.
Bradley a century ago, is a tragic fact. And its a
fact Americans are strangely slow to recognize. We expect success, results,
victory. We seldom anticipate failure, frustration, defeat let alone the
chaos that may ensue if our government increases the present rage and ferment of
the Muslim world by attacking a Muslim country.
It wont do to try to assure Muslims
that we dont consider all of them our enemies. Few of them are listening.
The same simple-minded passions that are showing up among Americans are even
more intense in the Muslim world. The Arabs, and the Israelis too, make their own
tragic mistakes. Most human beings do.
What could go wrong? Are we going to
insist on finding out? Few wars ever go as planned. Even Americas most
successful war the Mexican War, with its lopsided victory and tremendous
conquests is still bearing negative consequences for us.
Look at it this way: every major war may cost
civilization a young Mozart, Shakespeare, or Edison who, had he lived, might have
brought light and beauty into all our lives. Isnt that a conclusive argument