We, the Salt of the Earth, Take Precedence
by Paul Craig Roberts
July 2, 2008
Which country is the rogue nation? Iraq? Iran? Or the United States?
Syndicated columnist Charley Reese asks this question in a recently
Reese notes that it is the US that routinely commits "acts of
aggression around the globe."
The US government has no qualms about dropping bombs on civilians
whether they be in Serbia, the Middle East, or Africa. It is all in
a good cause – our cause.
This slaughtering of foreigners doesn't seem to bother the American
public. Americans take it for granted that Americans are superior
and that American purposes, whatever they be, take precedence over
the rights of other people to life and to a political existence
independent of American hegemony.
The Bush regime has come up with a preemption doctrine that
justifies attacking a country in order to prevent the country from
possibly becoming a future threat to the US. "Threat" is broadly
defined. It appears to mean the ability to withstand the imposition
of US hegemony. This insane doctrine justifies attacking China and
Russia, a direction in which the Republican presidential candidate
John McCain seems to lean.
The callousness of Americans toward the lives of other peoples is
stunning. How many Christian churches ask God's forgiveness for
having been rushed into an error that has killed, maimed, and
displaced a quarter of the Iraqi population?
How many Christian churches ask God to give better guidance to our
government so that it does not repeat the error and crime by
The indifference of Americans to others flows from "American
mission to impose their virtue on the rest of the world. Like the
French revolutionaries, Americans don't seem to care how many people
they kill in the process of spreading their exceptionalism.
American exceptionalism has swelled Americans' heads, filling them
with hubris and self-righteousness and making Americans believe that
they are the salt of the earth.
Three recent books are good antidotes for this unjustified self-
esteem. One is Patrick J. Buchanan's Churchill, Hitler, and the
Unnecessary War. Another is After the Reich: The Brutal History of
the Allied Occupation by Giles MacDonogh, and a third is John
Pilger's Freedom Next Time.
Buchanan's latest book is by far his best. It is spell-binding from
his opening sentence: "All about us we can see clearly now that the
West is passing away." As the pages turn, the comfortable myths,
produced by history written by the victors, are swept aside. The
veil is lifted to reveal the true faces of British and American
exceptionalism: stupidity and deceit.
Buchanan's strength is that he lets the story be told by Britain's
greatest 20th century historians and the memoirs of the participants
in the events that destroyed the West's dominance and moral
character. Buchanan's contribution is to assemble the collective
judgment of a hundred historians.
As I read the tale, it is a story of hubris destroying judgment and
substituting in its place blunder and miscalculation. Both world
wars began when England, for no sound or sensible reason, declared
war on Germany. Winston Churchill was a prime instigator of both
wars. He seems to have been a person who needed a war stage in order
to be a "great man."
The American President Woodrow Wilson shares responsibility with
Britain and France for the Versailles Treaty, which dismembered
Germany, stripping her of territory and putting millions of Germans
under foreign rule, and imposed reparations that Britain's greatest
economist, John Maynard Keynes, correctly predicted to be
unrealistic. All of this was done in violation of assurances given
to Germany that there would be no reparations or boundary changes.
Once Germany surrendered, the assurances were withdrawn, and a
starvation blockade forced German submission to the new harsh terms.
Hitler's program was to put Germany back together. He was succeeding
without war until Churchill provoked Chamberlain into an insane act.
Danzig was 95 percent German. It had been given to Poland by the
Versailles Treaty. Hitler was negotiating its return and offered in
exchange a guarantee of Poland's frontiers. The Polish colonels,
assessing the relative strengths of Poland and Germany, understood
that a deal was better than a war. But suddenly, the British Prime
Minister issued Poland a guarantee of its existing territory,
including Danzig, whose inhabitants wished to return to Germany.
Buchanan produces one historian after another to testify that
British miscalculations and blunders, culminating in Chamberlain'
worthless and provocative "guarantee" to Poland, brought the West
into a war that Hitler did not want, a war that destroyed the
British Empire and left Britain a dependency of America, a war that
delivered Poland, a chunk of Germany, all of Eastern Europe, and the
Baltic states to Joseph Stalin, a war that left the Western allies
with a 45-year cold war against the nuclear-armed Soviet Union.
People resist the shattering of their illusions, and many are angry
with Buchanan for assembling the facts of the case that
distinguished historians have provided.
Churchill admirers are outraged that their hero is revealed as the
first war criminal of World War II. It was Churchill who initiated
the policy of terror bombing civilians in non-combatant areas.
Buchanan quotes B.H. Liddell Hart: "When Mr. Churchill came into
power, one of the first decisions of his government was to extend
bombing to the non-combatant area."
In holding Churchill to account, Buchanan makes no apologies for
Hitler, but the ease with which Churchill set aside moral
considerations is discomforting.
Buchanan documents that Churchill's plan was to destroy 50% of
German homes. Churchill also had plans for using chemical and
biological warfare against German civilians. In 2001 the Glasgow
Sunday Herald reported Churchill's plan to drop five million anthrax
cakes onto German pastures in order to poison the cattle and through
them the people. Churchill instructed the RAF to consider
drenching "the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany"
with poison gas "in such a way that most of the population would be
requiring constant medical attention."
"It is absurd to consider morality on this topic," the great man
Paul Johnson, a favorite historian of conservatives, notes that
Churchill's policy of terror bombing civilians was "approved in
cabinet, endorsed by parliament and, so far as can be judged,
enthusiastically backed by the bulk of the British people." Thus,
the terror bombing of civilians, which "marked a critical stage in
the moral declension of humanity in our times," fulfilled "all the
conditions of the process of consent in a democracy under law."
British historian F.J.P. Veale concluded that Churchill's policy of
indiscriminate bombing of civilians caused an
unprecedented "reversion to primary and total warfare" associated
with "Sennacherib, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane."
The Americans were quick to follow Churchill's lead. General Curtis
LeMay boasted of his raid on Tokyo: "We scorched and boiled and
baked to death more people in Tokyo that night of March 9–10 than
went up in vapor in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined."
MacDonogh's book, After the Reich, dispels the comfortable myth of
generous allied treatment of defeated Germany. Having discarded all
moral scruples, the allies fell upon the vanquished country with
brutal occupation. Hundreds of thousands of women raped; hundreds of
thousands of Germans died in deportations; a million German
prisoners of war died in captivity.
MacDonogh calculates that 2.5 million Germans died between the
liberation of Vienna and the Berlin airlift.
Nigel Jones writes in the conservative London Sunday
Telegraph: "MacDonogh has told a very inconvenient truth," a story
long "cloaked in silence since telling it suited no one."
The hypocrisy of the Nuremberg trials is that the victors were also
guilty of crimes for which the vanquished were punished. The purpose
of the trials was to demonize the defeated in order to divert
attention from the allies' own war crimes. The trials had little to
do with justice.
In Freedom Next Time, Pilger shows the complete self-absorption of
American, British and Israeli governments whose policies are
unimpeded by any moral principle.
Pilger documents the demise of the inhabitants of Diego Garcia. The
Americans wanted Diego Garcia for an air base, so the British packed
up the 2,000 residents, people with British passports under British
protection, and deported them to Mauritius, one thousand miles away.
To cover up its crime against humanity, the British Foreign and
Commonwealth Office created the fiction that the inhabitants, which
had been living in the archipelago for two or three centuries,
were "a floating population." This fiction, wrote a legal adviser,
bolsters "our arguments that the territory has no indigenous or
Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart
conspired to mislead the UN about the deported islanders by, in
Stewart's words, " presenting any move as a change of employment for
contract workers – rather than as a population resettlement.
Pilger interviewed some of the displaced persons, but emotional
blocs will shield patriotic Americans and British from the
uncomfortable facts. Rational skeptics can find a second documented
account of the Anglo-American rape of Diego Garcia online. An entire
people were swept away.
Two thousand people were in the way of an American purpose – an air
base – so we had our British dependency deport them.
Several million Palestinians are in Israel's way. Pilger's
documented account of Israel's crushing of the Palestinians shows
that our "democratic ally" in the Middle East is capable of any evil
and has no remorse or mercy. Israel is an apt student of the British
and American empires' attitudes toward lesser beings. They simply
Those who are the salt of the earth take precedence over everything.
Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US
Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has
been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two
decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions,
co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how
Americans lost the protection of law, has just been released by
Copyright © 2008 Creators Syndicate
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