"I love war... . Peace will be hell for me," Gen. George Patton wrote his wife from the World War II front. Patton must have felt he was in good company. "Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle," he told the Third Army in July 1944.
So for all you Patton-ed "real Americans" out there, I offer you this terrifying insight: While in custody during the Nuremberg trials, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goerring was interviewed by a psychologist named Dr. Gustave Gilbert, as recounted in the new book "Weapons of Mass Deception" by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber of the Center for Media and Democracy.
"Of course, the people don't want war," Goerring said. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece.
"Naturally, the common people don't want war... . That is understood. After all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a Fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship," Goerring said.
Gilbert responded: "There's one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives. And in the United States only Congress can declare wars." Spoken like a true believer.
You can almost hear the snicker in Goerring's retort. "Oh, that is all well and good. But voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Of course, on Sept. 11, 2001, we were attacked - by al-Qaida operatives; not Saddam. Yet the polls indicate that a majority of Americans believe Saddam's regime was involved in 9/11. And in his most recent speech, the "straight-talkin' " President Bush again made the thoroughly discredited Iraq-al-Qaida link.
It's also been said that 9/11 represents something new in the world, bringing forth a new kind of war. But there's nothing new about terrorism or war. On Sept. 11, 1973, a U.S.-backed coup was launched in Chile that brought down the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, ushering into power the bloody rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet whose tyranny didn't end until 1990.
Fernando Torres, who now lives in Berkeley, Calif., was abducted by Pinochet's secret police in Antofagasta, Chile, in 1975 and detained for a year at the Tres Alamos concentration camp. He sees a connection between our 9/11 and the one memorialized in Chile.
"Both Sept. 11's are connected by the many failures of U.S. foreign policy. After calling us 'irresponsible people' because we elected the socialist Salvador Allende, Henry Kissinger supported and financed the coup that killed thousands of people," Torres observes.
Yes, the same Kissinger who Bush appointed to head the 9/11 investigation commission before Kissinger resigned amid a firestorm of criticism.
Claudio Duran was also abducted by Pinochet's police in 1975. Today, he is a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University.
"Let's put aside the political amnesia for awhile and read the reports from the U.S. Senate's Church Committee," Duran says. "Nixon and Kissinger are responsible for terror in our society. They plotted and gave a lot of U.S. taxpayer money to the Chilean terrorists who air-raided and bombed many buildings in September 1973."
Everybody says they're for peace but the Patton-ed "true Americans" need not fret. Apparently, it's still "easy" to "drag the people along" and bring them "to the bidding of the leaders."
Sure, we celebrate the lives of people like Martin Luther King Jr., but we don't take him seriously in his observation that "true peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."
Until "the common people" organize against the Goerring principle, there'll be perpetual warfare. And though the world is complicated, the choice is simple really: Nonviolence or nonexistence? - as King posed the question.
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a syndicated columnist. His column runs on Tuesdays. Call him at 508-775-1200, ext. 719, or e-mail him at email@example.com
Copyright © 2003 Cape Cod Times