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The Department of Offense

September 25, 2001

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 If the United States had withdrawn from the Middle East on its own initiative, Arab and Muslim hatred of this country would have abated and the attack might never have occurred.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 weak.

[Breaker quote: The age of 
double-talkIn 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 slept.

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 “freedom.”

Joseph Sobran

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Reprinted with permission
Copyright © 2001 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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