The commencement address Trump’s VP, Mike Pence, gave to West Point graduates recently goes down in history for all the wrong reasons.
It was an address littered with war talk that was so extreme it was more compatible with a speech you would expect to hear from a character in a Hollywood spoof than from a leading politician and government official.
This was no spoof, though, be assured, and as such the world needs to wake up to the fact that this administration is staffed with enough cranks and crackpots to fill an entire ward.
Here, for your consideration, is one of the more tame sections of Pence’s West Point commencement address: “It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen. Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.”
The country that instantly springs to mind upon reading the above passage is Venezuela, which for the past few months has existed in the crosshairs of US aggression, subjected to savage economic sanctions which according to Washington-based think tank, Center for Economic and Policy Research, have killed more than 40,000 people since they were introduced by the Trump administration in 2017.
The threat posed to Venezuela’s democratically elected sovereign government by a clutch of fanatical neocons in Washington – whom, as if by dint of a cruel joke played by history find themselves in power – is inordinate. Indeed it stands pristine example of international banditry on a par with ancient Rome’s siege of Syracuse (modern day eastern Sicily) during the Second Punic War.
The difference between ancient Rome and the Rome of our time – i.e. Washington – is that according to the latter’s current VP, Mike Pence, America will not only be going to war with one country or state at a time, but with the entire world at the same time.
“Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of you will join the fight on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific, where North Korea continues to threaten the peace, and an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region. Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force. And some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere. And when that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns and do your duty, and you will fight, and you will win.”
Though we can justifiably speculate that whoever wrote the Vice President’s speech might well have been drunk at the time, the man himself has no such excuse. He was, in fact, completely sober while delivering it to the packed assembly of military graduates arrayed in front of him. It is to be hoped that at least a few of them, listening, let loose an inner scream along the lines of “Whaaat?! Are you nuts?!”
On a more serious note, empires are sustained over the long term by the force of their idea not the idea of their force. And when the idea is no longer sufficient to sustain them and all they have left is force, nothing can halt their decline. Of this, history leaves no doubt.
Consequently, it is now self-evident that the Empire of our time, emanating from Washington, is in decline. And in decline it has entered its mad dog days, lashing out at enemies it has cultivated in the course of trying to force and sustain its writ across the world, growing ever more aggressive and bellicose in a desperate effort to maintain and sustain the hegemony it has enjoyed for far too long.
A burgeoning and out of control military budget, which this year is set to reach $750 billion, one that’s bigger than the military budgets of every other advanced country and economy combined, sends a message to the world, not of strength but weakness, not of security but insecurity, and not moral superiority but moral inferiority.
It also constitutes an attack on the American people themselves, on the basis of the sentiments enshrined in former President Dwight D Eisenhower’s ‘Chance for Peace’ speech in 1953.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
Mr Trump, Mr Pence, Mr Bolton, Mr Pompeo, neocons everywhere: kindly read and absorb Eisenhower’s words and for the sake of us all, as well as yourselves, choose life.
By John Wight