Sunday, September 1, 2013

An Open Letter to Progressives on Syria

This is meant as some food for thought among my fellow Progressives who are unhappy with the move toward taking action in Syria.

It is ultimately true that alleging oppression and genocide have long been the excuses for otherwise unprovoked invasions with ulterior motives.  This is not lost on me as today is the 1st of September and the 74th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland. The pretense for that was the oppression
World highwaymen - Germany invaded Poland today
of ethnic Germans in Poland which of course was not at all true and eventually brought my father to this country after much pain and suffering. Here we remember all too well the great lies told by Bush and Cheney which created the great debacle in Iraq.

But let me also tell you that WW II itself was equally a demonstration that military force can and should be used as a force for good in the world. My father was a prisoner in the concentration camp Neuengamme in May 1945 when the NAZIs were trying to liquidate the remaining population. The following is an excerpt from his memoir about the conditions on the ground in those final days and what it meant for the survivors and how it affected their captors.

"It was a very beautiful day. The sun was was shining, only a light breeze stirring the air, the fragrance from spring flowers from the nearby fields was permeating the area. If it was not for the fact that the sun was beating very hard, it would have been quite pleasant. But the sun was so unmercifully baking that in no time it became almost intolerably hot. The fact that everyone was in such a weakened condition the heat added to the misery. The voices calling for water became louder and louder. “Quiet!” the Germans from time to time added their voices to the mix. At times even a burst of submachine gun could be heard with bullets whistling over the crowd's heads. This condition almost developed into a major problem, when one of the SS officers turned the water on nearby the [railway] station building. What prevented the outburst was the appearance of American fighter planes. They flew so low that the faces of pilots were visible.
Kostek almost exclaimed aloud, “There!” as he fixed his eyes on one plane. “This plane is the very same that I was waiving to while I was on the farm yet.” In fact, right after that moment, he realized where he was and quickly glanced around trying to assess if he did say something, but no one looked surprised and he cowered down.
The Germans, on the other hand, reacted with a mixed emotions. Some became so angry that they tried to shoot at the planes as they made passes. Others, noticing those aiming at them, shouted. Kostek listened attentively to the conversations. 
“Don't do it!” One of the nearby SS said to his friend. “Do you want them to shoot back?  Your bullet probably will not do much harm, but they will unleash their anger on us and will do a lot of harm."   
"Let them shoot!" replied another.  "Take a look at what you are guarding. Wouldn't you like to see them disappear?"   
The officer scoffed.  "Do you think they don't know who these people are? And don't you think they know where you are?  Look, you idiot. I just came from the front. While there I thought like you do, but it did not take me long to figure out that the pilots can zero in on a target and almost pick what they want. I have wounds to prove it!”
We need always to consider the motives of any leader who advances the idea of military action to protect the innocent. The question we must ask is, Do we trust this president at this time? Or must we cast each and every such claim as automatically false because it has been used for such insidious purposes before? I think we need to consider each and every event as new and unique and need to consider the merits as they stand. It all comes down to trust in the light of the one real truth which is that inaction can be as devastating as action and the difference lives or dies with the truth.  For my part he still has my trust.  Others, a good deal less so.

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