Sunday, August 10, 2008

The New American Empire and the White Rose

Mother Jones writer Justin Elliot penned an article, Don't Know Much About History, in this month's magazine that cries out at the American citizen. Lots of my generation read this title and start humming the Sam Cooke song from the 50's. Interestingly they knew much more history than did those born that year.

Elliot's piece discusses the 2002 Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment (ONA) 85-page monograph called "Military Advantage in History". Many of the better teachers of history have already taught the 20 or so military advantages to their students, a lesson that many students find much more interesting than memorizing the kings of England.

Elliot notes: It examines four empires, or "pivotal hegemonic powers in history," to draw lessons about how the United States "should think about maintaining military advantage in the 21st century." And, more importantly, the author says:

"Though the report is far from revelatory, it provides a window into a mindset that unselfconsciously envisions the United States as the successor to some of history's most powerful empires."

This is the neocon philosophy in a nutshell [or bomb shell to be more exact.] The Mongols, Macedonians, Napoleon, and the Romans were cited as examples of one or more of the 'military advantages' that help them beat their competitors.

The author says, 'Several historians who reviewed the study differed on its quality and meaning. Walter Scheidel, a Stanford professor of classics and the coauthor of a forthcoming survey of ancient empires, called it "a successful distillation of relevant information and scholarship complemented by very interesting systematic analysis."'

Enter America as the newest candidate for 'pivotal hegemonic power' master of the world. The neocons who moved George W. Bush into identifying the three 'axis of evil' states and the invasion of Iraq, have forgotten one important difference in their lust for world power: the history book. Not only that but cinema as well.

Two movies have been made about the underground resistance movement in NAZI Germany- The White Rose, Die Weissen Rose, and Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. The films document the work of five German students who distributed leaflets to other students that called attention to the foolish propaganda that the Nazis were promulgating about German world power.

The 2nd White Rose leaflet stated: "Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way ... The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals ... Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty, guilty, guilty!"

A powerful indictment of the German people and a call to resistance. The White Rose members printed their explosive leaflets in secret knowing that what they were doing was considered espionage by the Nazis. One from the 1st leaflet says, "Nothing is so unworthy of a civilised nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct. It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes — crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure — reach the light of day?"

From the 5th leaflet: "Freedom and honour! For ten long years Hitler and his coadjutor have manhandled, squeezed, twisted, and debased these two splendid German words to the point of nausea, as only dilettantes can, casting the highest values of a nation before swine."
Some readers of this blog will readily see a connection between what these White Rose members bravely wrote in 1942 and the policies of the Bush Administration. It is frighteningly similar. Propaganda is powerful and Karl Rove clearly was a student of Joseph Goebbels.

The reason, I believe, that America will not become that pivotal hegemonic world-power is because there are many citizens who know history and are not afraid to speak their minds. After all, the First Amendment guarantees the right to speak freely. We do not have to print leaflets in dark rooms: the Internet is our leaflet-distributor system. This information outlet is the bane of scoundrels and dictators and it should keep this nation from moving to first place in world empire.

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