2023—Darkness at the Break of Noon

Image by Kajetan Sumila.

2024 Election

Hundreds of appeals and warnings about the possibility of the fascist candidate Trump’s re-election arrive in my email weekly. Some are requests from politicians seeking election or re-election; some are from groups known for their opposition to the extreme right. Most of them want me to vote for a Democrat. I don’t even consider sending money any more. If liberals had any guts, Trump would be in prison. If liberals didn’t need Donald Trump to run against because, like Trump, they have no vision, he would be in prison. On the other hand, if liberals do have a vision as they claim, then why the hell don’t they fight for it? If the presidential electoral system wasn’t programmed to switch rulers between the center right and the far right, Donald Trump would be in prison. But he isn’t. Instead, he’s a viable candidate for the White House despite his documented crimes and hatred of US democracy (such as it is.) Meanwhile, the GOP is holding impeachment hearings. If you though there was little reason for Trump’s first impeachment, you ought to check out this one of Biden. This impeachment is just stupid and shows the incestuous rivalry among the rulers.

Our problem comes from the right. Make no mistake, both Trump and Biden are on the right. Trump is obviously further to the right. It’s a situation somewhat reminiscent of Weimar Germany in the mid-1930s. Biden is the head of a shaky and weak coalition of social democrats and various conservatives and Trump is the head of the fascist legions. I don’t know where that leaves those trying to organize electorally. Do they vote against Trump and then what? I recently signed a petition to get Marianne Williamson on the Democratic primary ballot in Vermont. It’s not that I am a supporter, but that she’s a challenger well to Biden’s left. Hell, even with the considerably greater smoke-filled rooms in the 1968 Democratic Party, at least Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy (the elder) were able to get on primary ballots and seriously contest LBJ. Of course, the party leadership ultimately manipulated HHH (that’s Hubert Horatio Humphrey for those who don’t know or remember) into the nomination. Not that it mattered much in the end.
One thing I know for certain is that the cost of food is going up quicker than war industry stocks and EBT/food stamps are being cut. That 37,000 Dow Jones doesn’t help most of people who live on the planet Earth..

Slaughter in Gaza

It seems it is difficult for US residents to understand the magnitude of the Israeli attacks on Gaza. In an attempt to make it more comprehensible for the readers of this piece at least, let me extrapolate some comparisons using numbers. To begin with, the numbers I am using regarding Palestinian deaths and displacements since Tel Aviv’s onslaught began after the attack by Hamas that killed several hundred Israelis are on the conservative side. That being said, if we project those figures as percentages of the Gazan population and then transplanted the numbers to the United States population, there would be over two million US deaths and over 100 million displaced, many of them with no home to return to. Yes, over 20,000 dead by Israeli bombs, missiles and other armaments Palestine would be equivalent to over 2,000,000 dead in the US. Continuing this gruesome litany, this would mean close to a million dead children.

Just because the dead, wounded and displaced are in Gaza does not change their humanity. Nor does it change the fact of Israel’s murderous binge or the complicity of the United States. Israel is not above the law, even though they operate as if they were. Then again, history reminds us that its greatest ally and partner in crime, the United States, acts in the same manner. Israel is not acting alone. Washington is supporting Israel to the hilt, like they do. It’s convenient for Washington to let Israel commit war crime after war crime. That way people in the US can pretend that Tel Aviv is acting crazy on its own, when in fact it’s just doing what US and Israeli generals have planned together. There’s a reason why top ranking military and intelligence officials are bunkered with Israeli brass in the IDF’s war room underneath Tel Aviv’s Kirya. Every day that passes, every US made bomb or missile that kills and destroys, every excuse published in the US media does not make these facts go away. Instead, the acceptance of Tel Aviv’s rationales, the rejection of a ceasefire and the denial of what most of the world’s people understand is approaching genocide only makes each of us in the United States more complicit than we were the day before.

Israel claims it has the right to defend itself. Let’s look at this. Besides the fact that international law understands that an occupying nation does not have a right to go into outside territory it controls illegally to “defend” itself, what Israel is doing is not self-defense. It is mass murder. The fact that only sixty out of 535 legislators in Washington, DC have called for a ceasefire to end this madness reveals much about this nation. Even more so, the continued blocking of a ceasefire resolution by the US at the United Nations proves Washington’s existential investment in the Israeli colonial project. Likewise, it reaffirms Washington’s incredible arrogance and disregard for Palestinian life in the face of worldwide revulsion at the genocidal actions unfolding in Gaza.

Despite its repeated proclamations of righteousness, the United States is not a nation that deserves to considered any kind of a moral beacon.

After all, moral beacons don’t murder thousands of children. Nor do they reject calls for peace while claiming those murders are done in the name of self defense. Moral beacons don’t blame the occupied for their occupation while arming the occupier. Nor do they pretend a mass murderer can be appealed to do its deadly work on a less homicidal scale.

No, moral beacons act morally. They don’t repeatedly veto ceasefire resolutions at the United Nations, misusing the power they have as a member of the Security Council. They don’t arm the killers and rationalize their killing. Nor do they send warships to back up those killers. They don’t seriously discuss sending billions of dollars worth of more weapons to facilitate more slaughter. Nor do they send that money. Instead, they act morally. They use their power to work for political solutions to conflicts. They spend the money they receive in taxes to feed, educate, shelter and provide universal health care. They welcome migrants seeking a better life. In other words, they champion life, not death and genocide.

The United States is no moral beacon. Its ongoing response to the massacre in Gaza is but one more indication of this.

Ukraine

On December 11, 2023, Ukrainian President Zelensky talked about Russia being on something he called a “war track.” Of course, he didn’t mention that Washington has been on a war track against post-Soviet Russia almost since the USSR disintegrated. It cannot be said often enough: in the 1990s, Washington rejected a peace dividend, embarked on a campaign to expand NATO even though much of Europe was looking for a new security agreement that was not controlled by Washington and included Russia, and stepped up its military spending. In his recent statements, Zelensky also said that Russia wants to take over Europe, when in fact Russia just wants to trade freely with Europe, which is something Washington fears and rejects—witness the sanctions against Russia and the sabotage of the Nordeast pipeline, an action that was almost certainly approved by US intelligence. In that same speech at the National Defense University, Zelensky placed himself firmly in the alliance with Israel. The speech itself sounded like it was written by a losing high school public speaking team.

The following day, the Stars and Stripes—the newspaper for US military members overseas—published an article revealing that US Army Lieutenant General Antonio Aguto Jr. is “spending extensive time in Kyiv as a war adviser.” In other words, like his colleagues in the Israeli military’s underground war room in Tel Aviv, the general is working closely with a client military in strategic and tactical matters, presumably to make certain the Pentagon’s strategy for the region is getting top billing. To borrow from US football terminology as if Richard Nixon were still around, I doubt any US officers in these “advisory” roles are merely defensive and offensive coordinators. Washington’s war against the world continues. The fact that the mainstream media is reporting the leading role taken by the Pentagon in the conduct of these conflicts certainly redeems those of us who have said they were proxy wars all along. Like the conflict in Gaza, this is a joint military operation of the Pentagon and the local military.

The Ukraine war should never have occurred. Washington pushed its will on the confused political personalities in Ukraine despite the misgivings of many Ukrainians. Through bribery, promises and who knows what else, elements of Kyiv’s ruling class were convinced they would be better off in NATO and made that a non-negotiable demand in its discussions with Moscow. Unfortunately, but understandably, Moscow responded militarily after years of negotiations. Washington and its war machine was more than happy to make a lot of of money by selling weapons to Kyiv. Now, Kyiv, Washington and the rest of the Western bloc face a situation where their choices are likely narrowed down to either fight without much hope of victory or concede territory to Russia. Zelensky and his clique will most likely fight against this as long as they can while Washington and Brussels work to cut their losses. The losers, like myself and others predicted almost two years ago, will be the common folk referred to in Bertolt Brecht’s poem, “War Primer”. I quoted these lines many months ago in a piece titled An Antiwar Primer. They are worth repeating here:

The war which is coming

Is not the first one. There were

Other wars before it.

When the last one came to an end

There were conquerors and conquered.

Among the conquered the common people

Starved. Among the conquerors

The common people starved too.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com