Each morning I do a quick scan of the headlines coming over the wire services, clear my emails and Facebook entries, and then take a closer look at The New York Times online, paying particular attention to the opinion pages. I usually am not disappointed in my belief that the President Joe Biden Administration as well as ex-President Donald Trump, have been and continue to be collectively destroying what was once an admirable nation, something like flushing us repeatedly down the toilets of their ambition and greed.
In that light, last Friday was particularly bad and I had what I have come to call a Gadarene Swine moment. For those unfamiliar with the New Testament tale, which comes from the Gospel of Mark , it tells how Jesus encountered a madman during his Galilean ministry who was infested with demons. The man sought help to be cured of his infestation and Jesus obliged him, commanding “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”, before confronting the unleashed demon and asking “’What is your name?’ He answered, ‘My name is Legion. For we are many.’ And he begged Him repeatedly not to send them away out of the country. Now there was a great herd of swine feeding near the mountains. All the demons pleaded with Him, asking, ‘Send us to the swine, so that we may enter them.’ At once, Jesus gave them leave. Then the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. And the herd, numbering about two thousand, ran wildly down a steep hill into the sea and were drowned in the sea.”
My first thought was inevitably deep sympathy over what was done to the poor pigs, but that was quickly replaced by bottomless depression induced by the articles that I had just read in the Times that morning. Yes, we Americans have become the Gadarene Swine and are plummeting to our deaths as a people, driven by demons released by the folks that we have unfortunately come to accept as “our leaders.” The three pieces in question were two “opinions,” one by the inevitable Tom Friedman entitled “A Trip to Ukraine Clarified the Stakes. And They’re Huge” and the other a featured piece written by the newspaper editorial board entitled “How to Support Ukraine Beyond the Next Election.” The third article was a news report entitled “As President, Biden Sees Broader War Powers Than He Did as Senator: The president says he can direct limited military operations without lawmakers’ approval.”
The three pieces together suggest that the United States has become dominated by the airing of specious and often not very credible threats as an excuse to go onto a war footing forever, or at least until the country collapses due to its misplaced priorities. I will not, however, try to recreate in any detail the nonsense spewed by the country’s “paper of record,” if only to reject the basic arguments being made for “going the course” in wars that have no reasonable raison d’etre for having been started at all. None of the pieces even seek to answer the most basic question, which is also avoided by our warmongering governing class, and that is “What was or is the US national interest in getting involved in these wars in the first place?”
And surely the most frightening of the three articles is the one that airs the claim made by a muddle-headed Chief Executive Joe Biden that he can start a new war any time he wants, a bold challenge to the US Constitution’s essentially anti-war balance of government powers and also the existing War Powers Act. The article includes material like “If he is elected to a second term, President Biden pledged that he will go to Congress to start any major war but said he believed he was empowered ‘to direct limited U.S. military operations abroad’ without such approval when such strikes served critical American interests… In 2019, Mr. Biden had already shifted to embracing the view, adopted by the executive branch under administrations of both parties, that presidents have broader constitutional authority to carry out limited attacks on other countries without congressional authorization, so long as it falls short of full-scale war. As president, both Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden used force unilaterally, citing their claimed constitutional authority to use military force without congressional permission. In April 2017 and again in April 2018 , Mr. Trump directed airstrikes against Syrian government forces, and Mr. Biden in June 2021 and in August 2022 directed airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria.”
Should I ask how Biden will determine a “critical American interest?” Or exactly how either Syria or Iran has been “imminently threatening” the United States, which is in fact itself illegally occupying Syrian territory? And what about the current proxy war against Russia in Ukraine? Was Ukraine a threat to the US justifying bringing America to the brink of a nuclear war? Friedman is just back from a three-day trip to Ukraine and opines “What Putin is doing in Ukraine is not just reckless, not just a war of choice, not just an invasion in a class of its own for overreach, mendacity, immorality and incompetence, all wrapped in a farrago of lies. What he is doing is evil… This is as obvious a case of right versus wrong, good versus evil, as you find in international relations since World War II.”
Perhaps Tom might make an attempt to look more deeply into the seeds of the Ukraine war and might even consider Googling “Minsk accords,” “Boris Johnson visit to Kiev,” and “NATO Expansion,” but he certainly exhibits the type of judgmentalism that he has displayed for so many years at the Times while covering the Middle East, where he has finally been able to recognize “apartheid” after a journey of nearly fifty years during which time numerous crimes against humanity committed by his Israeli friends have been staring him in the face.
The Times editorial group piece also is unwavering in separating good from evil: “ While this board has questioned some specific decisions by Mr. Biden, such as supplying the Ukrainian Army with cluster munitions, we agree with him that it would be ‘wrong and contrary to well-settled principles’ to pressure another country to negotiate over its sovereign territory. Ukraine deserves full support against Russia’s unprovoked invasion, and it is in America’s national interest to lead its NATO allies in demonstrating that they will not tolerate Mr. Putin’s revanchist ambitions. It is a demonstration of America’s commitment to democracy and leadership that other would-be aggressors are watching.”
It is the well-worn “we have to be firm” assertion to set the example and warn other potential aggressors of consequences. But at the same time, to describe Russia’s attack as “unprovoked” is complete nonsense. And the real irony, not to mention hypocrisy, is the “negotiate over…sovereign territory” line when the US is occupying Syrian national territory and looking the other way and smiling as Israel steals the West Bank and Golan Heights. Some who have been closely following the developing situation in Syria are now reporting that it appears that the US is preparing to mount a new series of attacks to remove the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad. Three Republican congressmen recently traveled to occupied Syria to meet with groups that the United States government itself has labeled as terrorists. That is referred to as materially supporting terrorism which is a crime and one must ask the dwarflike Attorney General Merrick Garland where was the FBI to interrogate and possibly charge and indict the three when they returned? A major war in Syria would inevitably involve Lebanon and Iran. It would be a disaster for the entire region particularly when Israel takes advantage of the situation and Washington steps in to “have Israel’s back” even if the Jewish state starts the fighting. But the US rarely cares about how heavily its boot comes down on the local population or bothers to count the cost either in dollars or lives.
And, of course, the real danger is that if you buy into this type of nonsense, as both of the major political parties have, there is more to come to us long suffering Gadarene Swine, who will continue to endure an endless series of interventions based on nothing beyond the principal that one can get away with nearly anything when backed by a trillion dollar “defense” budget. And, oh by the way, Ukrainian “leader” Volodymyr Zelensky will be in Washington this week to meet with Biden and all his friends in Congress even as they “debate” giving him another $24 billion. He will want to make sure that the message is delivered to his hosts that he is the man who is in charge. Let’s see how the New York Times covers it!
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected].