I’ve started reading James Carroll’s House of War after catching him on CSPAN while channel surfing at my in-Laws on Memoral Day weekend. The second chapter is on the building and justification for use on Japan of the A-bomb. Chilling is the word to descibe my feelings as Carroll gives account of the players and the debates, and how “peace feelers” from Japan major players were systematically ignored and kept under wraps as the PR rationalization machine went to churning on the American public (think we’re in an unprecedented time of deception today? Think again.) Carroll reminds me a lot of Howard Zinn. I have Carroll’s previous book, Crusade, which is a selection of his columns for the Boston Globe, many of which were published on the Common Dreams website (this link is a Google Search result page on commondreams.org for James Carroll 2006. I just noticed that the Boston Globe is following the NYTimes cue, and charging for access to its most read op-eds. Previously, The Globe had made several weeks of the most recent articles available before beginning a subscription based model. So I guess Common Dreams is the source, although it seems that its only a matter of time before they get the plug pulled on that as well. Arghhhhh!
The subtitle for House of War is The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power. Carroll’s dad worked for the Pentagon. Carroll recounts how his Dad expressed to him his haunting nightmares about the direction the Pentagon is taking the country.
I also learned , in the prologue of House of War, that the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Pentagon took place on September 11, 1941, almost to the minute of the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the side of The Pentagon that faces Arlington cemetary. It is curious how this was never, to my recollection, noticed by the media, who seem to have an instaiable appetitie to drain every minute detail out of every possible angle.
As I flip through some of the later chapters to see what Carroll is going to cover later (the text of the book covers some 512 pages. The thorough documentation of the quotes and notes covers another 140 pages), I see the final chapter is entitled “The New World Order”, and includes this:
It was often siad that everything had changed in 2001, but the terrorist attacks laid bare what the United States was already becoming. That Washington swatted aside the structures of international law as a way to respond to Osama Bin Laden was prepared for by its habit, begun in the Reagan years, of dismiising international courts, ignoring treaties, and refusing to meet obligations to the United Nations and other transnational bodies. But with the new spirit of “with us or against usâ€” no discussion,” not even NATO was exempt from Washington’s contempt. This denigration of international organization s was accompanied by a new cultivation of “coaliktion of the willing,” a pseudo-internationalism that gauranteed U.S. dominance and put other nations in the position of accepting or rejecting nonnegotiable premises of action
—House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power, James Carroll, p.497
That first line immediately brings to mind Hauerwas’ retort to that “often said” phrase “The world changed on September 11” with “NO, the world changed at Calvary AD 33”, but the point here is that Carroll is challenging that notion; that nothing much had changed at all. That the United States was responding , as usual, with its own misguided sense of its own security. Carroll constantly claims throughout the book (as he said in his CSPAN appearance summarizing his book) that American power has manifested itself in tragic and misguided ways. Another book (in which I had taken a few sneak peeks after hearing its author interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air), Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer, sounds the same theme. America’s tendency (or is it it’s policy?) to see what it wants and then invent the rationale or insitigate events to justify its intervention, is the thing that will place it ultimately in the column of Empires that will bring about their own demise (ie Rome). Howard Zinn would probably agree.
The question for the church and for Christians is how we will respond to the claims of American empire which drip with the hubris of ignorant, greedy, power hungry men.
You have plowed iniquity, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your chariots and in the multitude of your warriors, therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people. . .â€ (Hos. 10:13-14).
Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our Godâ€¦..Psalms 20:7