Monday, July 30, 2007

Vito Says, "Prepare for Peace"

The business of America is war.

It was back in 1939 when Rep. Vito Marcantonio (American Labor Party - NY) spoke out against defense appropriations and it was again in 1949 when he cast the lone vote against Harry Truman’s little military adventure in Korea.

It is the same today, according to the “New York Times,” which reports a series of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt worth bazillions of dollars.

More specifically, Saudi Arabia will get some satellite-guided bombs, upgrades for fighter jets, and new seafaring toys to the tune of about $7 billion. Egypt will get $13 billion worth of weapons, and, so they don’t feel bad about themselves, the Israelis will get $30 billion.

That's a lot of new schools and teachers' salaries.

Which brings us to another installment of “Vito Says.”

It has been a while since we’ve visited our feisty left-wing, Italian-American whom has advised us to “Can the Patriot Act,” and “Pass the Card Check Labor Law.”

Both times he has been ignored, but Vito’s used to it.

The Bush administration, which makes war and bloodshed willy-nilly, is operating from some perverse notion that it will get love from Iraq’s Sunnis by showering this hardware on Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni, too.

The guns for Egypt are meant to serve as “a bulwark against Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East.”

That was one of the purposes to our ill-fated Iraq mission. They were going to create a “stable democracy” representing a “bulwark” in the region that would counteract Muslim lunacy.


A long time ago, before World War II, Marcantonio was trying to prevent Americans’ tax dollars diversion from domestic blessings to a “two-ocean” navy in the name of national defense.

The fast-talking congressman from East Harlem resorted to sarcasm on the House floor (Sept. 30, 1940).

Vito said: “Why confine ourselves to just a two-ocean navy? What we really need is a nine-ocean navy. If you tell me there are only seven seas on which men can sail ships, I say that all we have to do is to put the American boys we are conscripting to work digging two more oceans. What better way is there to toughen them up? After they have dug these two extra oceans then we can build two-more navies and thus we shall have a nine-ocean navy. Our defense program therefore should be based on an interplanetary defense, with the Milky Way as our first line, with a nine-ocean navy. With all this how can we miss protecting this so-called American way of life in the name of which we are now destroying the lives and liberties of the American people?”

Only Ronald Reagan took him seriously about the interplanetary stuff.

Ten years later (Dec. 15, 1950), in his last speech on the floor of the House, Vito was more taciturn: “Armaments per se have always meant nothing; armaments are merely the implementation of a policy. Armaments implementing a policy of genuine defense of a people’s interest is one thing, but these armaments implement an insane war program which has never been in the interest of the Nation, and it is today definitely not in the best interest or defense of the people of the United States.”

The issue was Korea, and Vito’s policy answer was to call for a cease-fire and “honest negotiations for an honest conclusion for peace.”

We haven’t changed much.

Last week, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) had the temerity to suggest he’d talk with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea during the first year of his administration.

He added: “The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them - which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration - is ridiculous.”

All of which was too much for conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer whose reams of nonsense were voice in a larger chorus of nitwits that got us into the current bloody mess.

In “Can Obama perform on the world stage?” the pro-war pundit spewed what passes for conventional wisdom in a country that spends better than half its shared wealth on arms.

“To be on the same stage as the leader of the world’s greatest power is of course a prize,” he wrote. “That is why the Chinese deemed it a slap in the face that President Bush last year denied President Hu Jintao the full state-visit treatment. The presence of an American president is a valued good to be rationed - and granted only in return for important considerations.”

Well, that was very bold of w. to deny Hu a fancy dinner and limousine or whatever, but he didn't cheat China on the important stuff and the proof is in this article from Floyd Norris of the New York Times News Service, which noted, “Whereas it was long said that the world caught pneumonia when the United States suffered a cold, it is now the Chinese economy that has taken world leadership.”

So they can do without photo-ops with a guy everybody is waiting to leave office.

But Krauthammer’s conclusion is that “Obama is not ready to be a wartime president.”

What he doesn’t understand, is that the world may be waiting for that: someone who talks to them, rather than paints them as evil and unworthy of his company. Someone who looks at the problem of Muslim fanaticism as something other than a “new kind of war” to be fought the old-kind-of-war-way by inundating the world with arms until the tide rises so high our own bombs end up killing our own soldiers and our own citizens.

In his “The Assault on Reason,” Al Gore observed that, under the administration’s interpretation of the world, the war on terror will last “the rest of our lives.”

Krauthammer is hoping that’s true and hoping the Democrats make a “mistake” in nominating a man of dialogue and peace who’ll get mopped-up in a debate with “Sept. 11, 2001 veteran Rudy Giuliani,” who recently advised us we can never go back to the 1990s. That we must live with the fundamentalist scourge forever.

Vito Says (March 25, 1935): “I disagree with the gentleman. Under the guise of defense you prepare for war, and when you prepare for war you are bound to have war.”

So try something new America; prepare for peace.

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