Death of a Nation

As immigrants to Israel, most of us who come from America keep up on the news in the alteheim (old country in Yiddish).  It seems everyone is talking about the US president and his use of the “S” word with regard to certain people from certain countries.  As an aside to the transportation minister, maybe you should change the name of the new train to the Kotel and not name it after Trump.  Read and think, please.

As a historian, I can’t help but be impressed (or depressed) at how little things have changed over the last century.  One hundred years ago, the country was busy healing the rift between North and South in the wake of the Civil War while poised to begin the Great War.  Black codes and Jim Crowe were the norm.  President Woodrow Wilson closed American governmental jobs to blacks.  America in the eyes of blacks was more like Amerika because of its embrace of the KKK and racism to pacify the South and heal the rift between Northerners and Southerners after the Civil War.

As part of this “healing,” pioneering filmmaker D.W. Griffith produced and directed Hollywood’s first blockbuster, Birth of a Nation in 1915.  The racism of this silent film epic, it’s glorification of the KKK, and denigration of blacks is well known, and this brief op-ed cannot fully discuss all of the aspects of it.  However, briefly, let’s just say I don’t know what the big surprise is worldwide as Trump, a demagogue, says what the ruling 1% really think.  This is the historical policy of both Democrats and Republicans in the Whitehouse (with exceptions beyond our time here), the two parties of the 1%.  End of that story.

Now, I want to boil the whole mess down for it’s implications for Israel.  First, your ancestors came from s…hole countries.  The entire thrust of the 1921 US legislation on immigration was to limit immigration from countries that would produce “hyphenated Americans.”  This was a term for immigrants primarily from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, especially folks like Italians and Jews.  Second, since 1967, we have effectively become a part of the US Empire or at least of its influence.  Anyone who doubts this statement is really living under a rock in the Negev or in a Qumran cave.  We don’t do what we did earlier, which was preemptively strike our enemies and deal them decisive blows.  Instead, we engage in inconclusive actions that are only temporary palliatives.  In the meantime, the US supplies everyone (including the PA) with training and weapons.  Their “peace” treaties all contain provisions for armaments.  In other words, Washington keeps the wars going, all for the military industrial complex.  Surely, Eisenhower is turning in his grave. We are just another s…hole for New York banks that profit handsomely from the American war machine.

By the way, don’t go back to the US to try to make money.  Wall Street may be doing well, but Main Street is dead. There’s no more money to be made. I tried it after my divorce here. I wasted two and a half years there trying to get back on my feet. I just wanted to save you the trouble. Stay tuned and more on that later.

Has anything happened like this before in Jewish history?  Certainly, nothing is new under the sun.  During the time of the Maccabees, the rabbis were consulted as to whether the new Jewish commonwealth should be an ally of Rome or not.  They said that once the Romans came, they would never leave.  A century later, in 65, Pompey proved them right and the Romans crushed out not just Jewish independence, but almost all Jewish life in the country in the next two hundred years.

America is a new Roman Empire.  How you say?  Listen to the way they talk about themselves (more in private than in public).  The founding fathers never called their experiment a democracy, but a republic.  They have a Senate.  Capitol Hill is named after the temple of Jupiter (Capitoline Hill).  They have the Eagle as a symbol.  Benjamin Franklin called the young country an “infant empire.”

So, why does the US public flinch at direct control of overseas possessions?  This came out of the US-Philippine War which lasted from 1898-1902, but continued in the South islands with the remnants of the Filipino Army and elements of the Pulane and Moro peoples until July of 1913.  America’s first counterinsurgency overseas cost tens of thousands of American lives and up to a quarter of a million Filipinos.  The shock on the American public and the debate so fierce, the Philippines eventually became a commonwealth in 1934.  While it was legally independent after World War II, no one questions that it continues as an area of US influence.  While the British gloried in their empire, the US has tried to hide this.  Additionally, they used technology to cut the number of troops used overseas.

How did the US succeed?  According to Professor Alfred W. McCoy of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the US war effort depended largely on technology, such as telegraph, telephone and the early Hollerith punch card machine to tabulate files on individual rebels.  The Hollerith Company later became IBM and the machines descendents enabled the SS and Nazi allies to manage the empire of their camps.  Dr. McCoy and his colleagues say that the national security state in America and its reliance on technology to dominate ultimately comes out of this conflict.  Rumor has it there is a big CIA listening post in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem.  Maybe I should give a shalom shout out to them.

Why am I filling you in on all of this?  First of all, while we toe the US line, all goes well.  When we don’t, we only have to look at Panama or Libya to see what happens.  As a former US Army intelligence analyst and officer, let me clue you in on how Israel looks to the US:  as a landlocked aircraft carrier and adjunct of the Mediterranean Sixth Fleet.  We are a weapons lager and refit area for the US Navy and other armed forces.  As such, we are a part of the US Empire’s area of influence.  I will give Bibi a C-/D+ in his talking to the Russians on Syria and deconflicting.  However, we are not free enough.  We need the freedom we had before 1967 to choose (and dispose) of allies at will.

Let’s go back to my first point of the op-ed.  Why should Israel see the US as a dying nation and empire?  This is because the Pentagon thinks so.  They perceive that they will have a difficult time projecting US power and bending the world to the Empire after 2031.  With almost 900 bases overseas and a seemingly uncountable number of conflicts, the country is overextended.  Putting on my intelligence hat, I don’t think they will go out peacefully like the British and the Soviets did.  The military industrial complex is consuming more of the nation’s resources.  I think they will go out shooting.  Like heroin, the US is addicted to war and this is its business.  When the big conflict happens with Russia and China (believe me, this is just a matter of time), Israel will have to make a choice that will make our tiff with the Palestinians look like child’s play.

When I was at my officer basic course for the US Army, an instructor told my class that you keep up by staying ahead.  Will someone please inform the crime minister Netanyahu to think about this between paybacks, stripper gate, cigars, champagne and illegally purchased submarines.  We have to look at what the future looks like without our “ally.”  Stay tuned for my next broadcast.

About the Author
Akiva ben Avraham is a former community college adjunct, US Army intelligence analyst and officer, and a caregiver.