Archive for August, 2013

Washington’s Warning and America’s Lack of Adherence

Posted in Uncategorized on August 28, 2013 by JM

Gilbert_Stuart_Williamstown_Portrait_of_George_Washington

Before George Washington retired in 1797 to his home Mount Vernon, Washington wrote a Farewell Address in the form of a letter to “The People of the United States”. It was first published on September 19, 1796, in the Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser. [1] Shortly following its initial publication, the letter was widely disseminated, appearing in numerous newspapers throughout the country.

The letter can be dissected into two primary parts; the first part is Washington announcing his decision to retire after serving two terms. Because the 22nd Amendment would not be ratified until approximately 150 years later, Washington could have sought a third term, but he wished to retire to his plantation, since he yearned for leisure and felt a decline of his physical powers [3]. Following Washington’s retirement, the two-term limit became a tradition and very few presidents sought a third term. The only president to serve more than two terms was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died during his fourth term, April 12, 1945 (6 years before the ratification of the 22nd Amendment)

The second part of the letter is a warning, which begins with the following passage:

“Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger natural to that solicitude, urge me on an occasion like the present to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all important to the permanency of your felicity as a people.”

One of the most important warnings made by Washington was his warning against the establishment of “permanent alliances with other countries,” connections that he warned would inevitably be subversive of America’s national interest. [2]

Excerpts from Washington’s Farewell Address regarding foreign alliances:

“In the execution of such a plan nothing is more essential than
that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations and
passionate attachments for others should be excluded and that in place
of them just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated.
The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an
habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its
animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it
astray from its duty and its interest.”

“…a passionate attachment of one nation for another
produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation,
facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases
where no real common interest exists and infusing into one the enmities
of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels
and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification.”

Today, America’s relationship with Israel is a complete contrast to Washington’s sentiments. Modern presidents unabashedly boast of the US-Israel alliance:

“The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul.”-George W. Bush [4]

“I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors…I am confident in declaring that our alliance is eternal, is forever.” -Barack Obama [5]

“Our relationship would never vary from its allegiance to the shared values, the shared religious heritage, the shared democratic politics which have made the relationship between the United States and Israel a special—even on occasion a wonderful—relationship … The United States admires Israel for all that it has overcome and for all that it has accomplished. We are proud of the strong bond we have forged with Israel, based on our shared values and ideals. That unique relationship will endure just as Israel has endured.” -Bill Clinton [6]

One manifestation of these presidential statements is the fact that Israel is overwhelmingly the largest recipient of US foreign aid in the world. The US provides Israel approximately $3 Billion in grants annually [7] (aid which overshadows the aid given to countries ridden with disease and poverty), and according to the Congressional Research Service, the US has provided Israel $118 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance, to date, and almost all bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance. [8] This is regardless of the fact that the US is nearing a monolithic 17 trillion dollar national debt and that Israel is a relatively rich country. Even a former Israeli minister of defense, Moshe Arens, had this to say about US foreign aid to Israel: “We love to get it, and our finance minister would probably kill me if he heard me say this, but we could get along without it…The United States is going through a financial crisis with debts in the trillions of dollars. We would be unhappy to find that aid is being cut but we could survive without it.” [9]

Sending billions of dollars to Israel annually is obviously counterproductive to the US resolving its national debt problems, but another reason it is contrary to American interests is because it undermines US national security and creates resentful attitudes towards the US among Arabic nations in the Middle East.

Under international law, it is illegal for Israel to colonize the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has made this explicitly clear. [10] Despite this, Israel continues to build its illegal settlements, demolish Palestinian homes, and forcibly displace Palestinians. Another activity committed by Israel, which is considered to be illegal under international law by most experts, is Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip. The blockade has created poor living conditions for Gazans; for example, the blockade has resulted in an inadequate supply of food, causing 10% of Gazan children under 5 to have stunted growth due to prolonged exposure to malnutrition. Also,  The blockade has prevented the import of crucial sanitation equipment needed to repair Gaza’s only fresh source of water, which is 90 to 95% contaminated, [11] and which was primarily brought upon by war damage inflicted by Israel. [12] (You can read an elaborate 2012 report that was jointly issued by the aid organizations Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians concerning the blockade’s negative effects, primarily on Gazan children, here: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/docs/Gazas-Children-Falling-Behind.pdf). Much more can be said about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, but in short, Israeli policies are oppressing Palestinians, and a lot of these policies are criticized by the international community.

The unwavering support the US gives Israel, in spite of Israeli policies akin to the aforementioned, is what creates indignation towards the US among the Arabic world and which also triggers extremists to aspire to commit terrorism on US soil. For example, the motivation of one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef, was revealed when the FBI captured Yousef and questioned him on the flight back from Pakistan:

“Yousef said he took no thrill from killing American citizens and felt guilty about the civilian deaths he had caused. But his conscience was overridden by his desire to stop the killing of Arabs by Israeli troops.”

“Yousef said he would like it to be different, but only terrible violence could force this kind of abrupt political change. He said that he truly believed his actions had been rational and logical in pursuit of a change in U.S. policy toward Israel. He mentioned no other motivation during the flight and no other issue in American foreign policy that concerned him.” [13]

In addition to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing being motivated by U.S. policy toward Israel, U.S. policy toward Israel was also one of the motives for the September 11, 2001 attacks. From a July 23, 2004 Los Angeles Times article, Terry McDermott writes:

“Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who conceived and directed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was motivated by his strong disagreement with American support for Israel, according to the final report of the Sept. 11 commission.” [14]

Furthermore,  page 162 of The 9/11 Commission Report reveals the sentiments of hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi:

“…when someone asked why he and Atta never laughed, Shehhi retorted, “How can you laugh when people are dying in Palestine?”” [15]

Even some of Osama Bin Laden’s first public speeches in the late 1980s advocated a boycott of American goods because of US support for Israel [16], and from a November 29, 2007 audiotape, Bin Laden states:

“…the events of Manhattan were a response to the American-Israeli coalition’s murder of our people in Palestine and Lebanon.” [17]

This is not to say, however, that terrorism motivated by the plight of the Palestinians is justified; the killing of innocent people is a reprehensible act that should never be regarded as morally right. Nevertheless, what should be realized is that terrorist attacks such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and 9/11 are not a result of terrorists “hating Americans for their freedom”, as many politicians parrot, they are consequences of poor foreign policy decisions. (The Central Intelligence Agency has referred to this as “Blowback” [18]) It would be strategically wise for the US to halt its unconditional support for Israel, considering that Israel continues to carry out policies such as constructing illegal settlements in the West Bank. It is time for politicians to start adhering to the farewell words of George Washington; it is time they start having the interests of the American people as their top priority, as opposed to substantially serving special interest groups and lobbies which ultimately undermine national security and lead the US into unnecessary wars.

1. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06.html

2.http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-CDOC-106sdoc21/pdf/GPO-CDOC-106sdoc21.pdf

3. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/636381/George-Washington/24515/Retirement

4. http://www.israelemb.org/washington/Obama_in_Israel/Pages/US-Presidents-on-Israel.aspx

5. http://atlantablackstar.com/2013/03/20/at-start-of-visit-obama-declares-unbreakable-bond-with-israel-teases-netanyahu/

6. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/presquote.html#clinton

7. http://www.adc.org/IB85066.pdf

8. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

9. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4394357,00.html

10. http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=6584

11. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-water-is-running-out-in-gaza-humanitarian-catastrophe-looms-as-territorys-only-aquifer-fails-8679987.html

12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18436602

13. http://representativepress.blogspot.com/2005/09/no-other-motivation-no-other.html

14. http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jul/23/nation/na-plot23

15. http://www.faqs.org/docs/911/911Report-179.html

16. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/dec/03/osamabinladenstruepriorities

17. http://www.jihadica.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/refuting-the-conspiracies-surrounding-as-sahab-media.pdf

18. http://www.thenation.com/article/blowback

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