The Department of Offense
September 25, 2001

by Joe Sobran

     Despite the best efforts of government, sometimes 
bits of the truth leak out.

     Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu 
made one of the frankest statements yet about the 9/11 
attack: he said it was "good for Israel." He quickly 
added an expression of sympathy for Americans, lest he 
seem to be welcoming the horror we had suffered; but his 
first reaction was right.

     Objectively, the attack, though bad for the United 
States, was good for Israel, just as Pearl Harbor, though 
bad for the United States, was good for Britain -- as 
Winston Churchill was the first to realize. Once Japan 
hit Pearl Harbor, the United States was bound to enter 
World War II on the British side. Small countries always 
welcome the military assistance of big countries. It's 
only natural.

     Privately, Churchill spoke of "the British Empire." 
But because Americans frowned on empires, he spoke 
publicly of Britain and America as "the great 
democracies" and "the English-speaking peoples." Today 
the Israelis speak among themselves of "the Jewish 
state," but when they address Americans, most of whom are 
gentiles, they speak of "democracies."

     The interests of nations (or nation-states) differ. 
Even allies rarely have identical interests. What's bad 
for one may be profitable for the other, though it is 
usually unseemly to say so. The necessities of propaganda 
force them to present a united front, to insist that they 
stand for the same ideals, and to profess to feel each 
other's pain, as if they were Siamese twins.

     Now the United States is welded to Israel as never 
before. The alliance went from costly to catastrophic in 
a flash. It undoubtedly helped motivate the attack. If 
the United States had withdrawn from the Middle East on 
its own initiative, Arab and Muslim hatred of this 
country would have abated and the attack might never have 
occurred. But a U.S. withdrawal now would look like the 
retreat of a defeated empire -- like the British 
withdrawal from Palestine in reaction to Zionist 
terrorism. And no American president can afford to look 

     In response to the attack, the Bush administration 
has created an Office of Homeland Security. Excuse me, 
but, like, isn't homeland security the whole purpose of 
the Department of Defense?

     Apparently not. Apparently the Federal Government 
spends $300 billion every year for something that is not, 
strictly speaking, "defense" -- as in "the common defense 
of the United States." So when it actually finds it 
necessary to defend this country, it has to create a 
whole new agency!

     The Department of Defense is, properly speaking, a 
Department of Offense -- an offensive force spread all 
over the globe, provoking enmities against which it 
can't defend us. It does precisely the opposite of what 
it's supposed to be doing. It makes us insecure. Hence 
the need for a separate agency to produce "security."

     Once upon a time, before double-talk became the 
American Way, the Department of Defense was frankly 
called the Department of War. Maybe it's time to resume 
the old name, in the interest of candor and clarity. But 
whatever we call it, it's obsolete. Like all state 
entities, it has been outwitted by resourceful private 
persons -- and in this case, singularly unpleasant ones.

     Heartening as it is to see every American waving a 
flag in each hand, you have to wonder where all these 
patriots were while their Constitution was being wadded 
up, while their Republic was becoming an empire, and 
while their politicians were pandering to the pro-Israel 
lobby. It took a horrible physical assault on this 
country to wake them up, but they still don't seem 
curious about how this situation came to pass while they 

     We are told that our freedom is under attack. And it 
is. But Osama bin Laden can't abridge our freedoms; only 
our own government can do that -- by giving the FBI and 
CIA new powers, for example, and by imposing new 
restrictions on airlines and travelers, banks and 
financial institutions, and on private communications. It 
may yet force us all to carry identity cards.

     The prospect of a government that treats all its 
citizens as criminal suspects is more terrifying than any 
terrorist. And even more frightening is a citizenry that 
can accept the surrender of its freedoms as the price of 


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