VVAW: Vietnam Veterans Against the War
About VVAW
Contact Us
Image Gallery
Upcoming Events
Vet Resources
VVAW Store


Page 16
Download PDF of this full issue: v32n1.pdf (13.8 MB)

<< 15. Where Do We Go From Here?17. New Definitions of Reality >>

My View

By John Zutz

[Printer-Friendly Version]

Repeat a lie often enough and people will begin to believe it. Adolph Hitler knew that. Others are practicing it today. The lie? That everything has changed since September 11.

But the change overseas hasn't been that large. The people who hated us on September 10 hated us September 10 the year before. They probably hated us for the ten September 10s before that.

The big lie tells us they hate us for what we believe or what we say we stand for. The truth is they hate us for what we do. We are seen as bullies. We use the big stick more often than the soft speech.

The two biggest changes have been in the United States.

First, there's the changed perception of George W. Bush, who has morphed from a not-too-bright business failure into a Leader With Vision. The emotional reaction and the neo-patriotism engendered by the attack on the States have caused many Americans to follow blindly.

This red, white and blind lockstep has given us the second change: a country with significantly fewer liberties. Attorney General Ashcroft - who swore to uphold the Constitution - calls this state of affairs the "new normalcy." We are advised to get used to it for the indefinite future, because we are "at war."

The result? People in prison indefinitely with no representation, no charges filed, no hope of a public hearing, no ability to confront their accusers, and no possibility of a jury of their peers. Law-abiding citizens are liable to be accused of aiding and abetting the enemy, randomly searched, bugged, or investigated for exercising their constitutional rights.

The reduction in liberties is supposedly balanced by the increased security. Another big lie. Some of us may feel safer, but of the hundreds detained, only one is actually being tried for committing a crime.

Furthermore, all the efforts and all the money spent on security have not made us one bit safer from terrorist attacks. All the increased security has managed to do is take scissors and nail files from grandmothers' purses. It couldn't stop a guy with C4 in his shoes. It wouldn't have stopped Tim McVeigh from bombing the Federal Building in Oklahoma.

The only people affected by metal detectors at the courthouse door are law-abiding citizens. Like the Maginot Line and the Atlantic Wall, if an attacker can't go through, he'll go around.

Since bunkering up and hunkering down can't protect us, I suggest we do just the opposite by making our society more open. Show the world these attacks were pinpricks. Sure they hurt, but they didn't cripple us.

The World Trade Center was a symbol of capitalism, just as the Pentagon is the symbol of our military - that's why they were attacked. But the capitalist system is still going strong, and the military is still operating. The attacks only shut us down momentarily.

What needs to change is our undeclared, endless "war on terrorism."

What we've seen in Afghanistan is the war we wanted to fight in Vietnam, using U.S. air power and high-tech weapons. Sending small numbers of Special Ops advisors and CIA agents to coordinate local troops who pound the ground. Up to this point, it's been fairly successful. We've dislodged the Taliban and disrupted Al Qaeda.

Our leaders want to continue this "war." Perhaps we'll go to Iraq, or Somalia, or Indonesia, or the Philippines ... or all of them. The White House has publicly stated that this "war" may last fifty years, and that we may carry it to as many as fifty countries.

Since nobody has managed to define what a terrorist is or what exactly constitutes a terrorist act, we can unilaterally declare any person who doesn't like us to be a terrorist, or any country that disagrees with us to be a terrorist country. There's a good reason so many people in the world hate us.

However, there is no guarantee that the strategy that seemed to work in Afghanistan will work anywhere else. It already failed in Vietnam.

That's why we need to step back before this becomes another Cold War or "war on drugs."

Some will say we won the Cold War. But it cost us years of productivity. The paranoia and schizophrenia in our government crippled us and blinded us to reality.

You remember the "war on drugs"; Richard Nixon declared it in 1970. Every now and then we hear about its great successes - and it's been so successful there are no drugs in the United States today. In fact, the "war on drugs" has been so successful that even conservative senators and congressmen are beginning to think that legalization and treatment is a better answer than prohibition.

Why wait two or ten or twenty years to question the "war on terrorism"? Do it now. And get us off this security binge. I ask those who insist all this is temporary to remember the first practitioner of the Big Lie:

"The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures. ... The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one." (Adolf Hitler, in an address to the Reichstag on the occasion of the enactment of the Enabling Act, March 23, 1933.)


John Zutz is a member of the Milwaukee chapter and a VVAW national coordinator.

<< 15. Where Do We Go From Here?17. New Definitions of Reality >>