UNDER GOD IS THE FIRM LINK TO U.S. STUPIDITY, NOT U.S. SECURITY. And related observations. 06/22/04
Mr. Daniel Henninger:
In your essay "'Under God' Is the Firm Link to US Security" (Wall Street Journal, Friday 18, 2004), you conclude that the "innocuous little pledge [of allegiance] ... under God" is "the last link joining national purpose to God -a union that is the country best proven hope for ensuring national strength. When that link is finally broken, the US will start to become, well, France -smart, sophisticated, agnostic, and save for nuclear bombs, inexorably weak. That is one test case I'd as soon not try."
I thank you for putting in a nutshell some of the ideas which guide many in America's elite today. We have heard similar things from the President, the Supreme Court, and many others who mold America.
It may be true that, if America started to become France -smart, sophisticated and suspicious of old fables, we would be deprived of the occasional amusement America provides us with. And what would Bin Laden and his colleagues have done, if America's "intelligence" agencies had not taught them how to bomb and terrorize? Teaching those fanatics such skills was neither smart nor sophisticated, and so naive, one could not expect France ever to do it, but it has ensured US "national strength." Now the US is strong all over the Middle East.
Still, this lack of smarts, this lack of sophistication, and this credulity that you present as the preferred American way, is not necessarily conducive to the security of civilization. The last time the going got really tough, when the Nazis tried to conquer the world, America was inexorably discrete. The Nazis started destroying all the democracies, and massive, extremely public exterminations of many nationalities and creeds, all over Europe, in full view of the USA. What did the USA do for all to see? Nothing. When one is "under God," one is apparently also under a spell. The USA made its "neutrality" into law as soon as 1937. In practice it meant America helping the Nazis as much as possible, and the French republic, not at all. France was the only serious adversary Hitler had.
The "inexorably weak" France, though, having finally persuaded the Brits to come along, declared war to Hitler, on September 3, 1939. The French maybe weak, but they are not afraid of declaring war to fascist superpowers, it seems to be a habit. By September 7, 1939, the French army was fighting on German soil (alone: the Brits had no army yet!). To call France "agnostic" is therefore wildly mistaken. France had, and has, very strong beliefs. Simply, not all of them are American beliefs. One of those strongly held French beliefs was that Hitler was so bad, it was time to get rid of him. Differently from the US with Saddam, the situation was really serious in 1939, and France was not motivated by greed, or oil. In the end, French casualties in WW2 would be several times those of the British Empire, or of the United States.
Not believing in the God Americans pledge to, does not mean one is agnostic. Americans do not pledge to Aztec Gods, that does not make them agnostic. Actually it was America which was nearly completely agnostic about Hitler. America had only two beliefs about Hitler: Hitler was good for American business, and Hitler was good for American worldwide expansion. So Hitler was good, and France was bad. That the French did not share these beliefs does not make them agnostic. Quite the opposite. It is precisely a certain lack of "Christian" values and virtues (such as altruism), which, de facto, made America less "Christian" in 1939 than the supposedly "agnostic" French republic. The French are exposed everyday to the proud motto of their republic: "Liberte', Equalite', Fraternite'", the latter two being universal values also claimed by genuine Christians. The French are then naturally suspicious of unsophisticated types who pledge petty national allegiance "Under God" everyday. As the Aztecs, or the Nazis, showed, a national God can be anything, but friendly to the rest of mankind.
For the USA, 1941 was another year which would live in infamy. Just like in 1938, 1939, or in 1940, in 1941, the US did not prepare to attack Adolf Hitler to come to the rescue of democracy, or humanity. The US had no intent whatsoever to go to war in 1942, either.
Even after fascist Japan, Hitler's long time ally, attacked it at Pearl Harbor, and in the Philippines, the US did not declare war to Hitler. Instead the US kept on waiting placidly like an inexorably stupid cow, seemingly wondering what it all meant.
Maybe the cow was trying to talk to God, but having less success at it than President Bush. (We are lucky to have in President Bush a leader who talks about war with his "Higher Father": no more waiting around.) Apparently it would really have broken the cow's heart to declare war to the Nazis. The Nazis used to pledge "Unter Gott" all the time; this, and the Nazis' racial and world domination themes, may have created an affinity, I hope you understand the bovine reasoning... Finally, Hitler put the cow out of its misery, by declaring war TO the USA, December 11, 1941.
Of course France had lost a battle by then, allowing Hitler to implement the "exterminations" he had written about 20 years earlier in a world wide best seller. But France had not been so "inexorably weak". The Nazis got lucky during the battle (simulated replays of the battle in 1940 always end up with Nazi defeat, and French victory; the outright revelation to Hitler of the weak point in the French defenses by the Inspector General of the British Army may explain the difference).
The first luck of the Nazis was to be financed by a plethora of Americans, and their companies and schemes (GE, Ford, 1924 US Dawes plan for rearmement of Germany, etc...). The US government helped in countless diplomatic ways, sometimes as early as 1919. Then American direct investment allowed to build the incredible Nazi military machine. Most "German" tanks were actually made by GM and Ford. GM was made tax exempt by Hitler in 1936, so it could build more tanks. Most American companies in Germany were reinvesting most of their profits in building the Nazi war machine. Some, like GE or IBM, had near, or total monopolies in crucial Nazi technologies. All the Nazi fuel, be it in the air, or on the ground, was made in Germany from purchased American synthetic fuel technology. And all the rubber. And another 100 chemical processes transmitted to I.G. Farben by US companies such as Du Pont. Even parts of the Nazi dive bombers known as Stukas, their automatic pilots, and their magnesium incendiary bombs were mostly American. Thousands of devices, contraptions and equipment crucial to the Nazi war machine were of US origin.
Worse: the financing of entire sectors of the Nazi economy, such as steel, coal, and explosives, was mostly American. France was defeated, true, by inexorable American machines, inexorable American technology, inexorable American finance, and inexorable American logic hiding behind enthusiastic Nazi teenagers. France could handle one hostile superpower, but not two. Does that make France "inexorably weak"? Some cliques have alledged France was decadent in 1940. But who was decadent? Those who fought the Nazis, or those who fed the Nazis?
Yes, it was not smart, it was not sophisticated, and it was very naive for America to be strong that way. With Hitler as a front for an agenda of world domination. Now you can pledge all you want under your American God, and hope you got a link. The smart and the sophisticated, armed with a moral knowledge which escapes the naively superstitious, will prefer to remember Auschwitz, and the other 60 million killed. And how it happened: the 100 divisions of the French army (plus a few British, Dutch and Belgian), and its 3,000 state-of-the-art tanks, defeated by the long arm of an American superpowerful clique of contractors and instigators.
France saved the world from Nazism by pushing for war in 1939, when Hitler was not ready yet (Hitler planned to be ready in 1944).
Is it better to pledge allegiance, as the Nazis did everyday, and being stupid and gross and gullible, as the Nazis were everyday, or was it better to try to get rid of Hitler, or, now, to try to understand who was behind him?
The presence of the American pledge of allegiance, and the lack of smarts and sophistication it induces, that you evoked, explains why most of what I just described will be shattering news to the gullible American public. That American lack of mental sharpness is what allowed some rogue elements in financial and industrial America to get away with what they did with their collaborator Hitler, and move inexorably to world domination. That elite successfully procreated, and now its grandchildren rule (e.g., Prescott Bush's bank financed most of Nazi iron). This may explain why so many people, in the American elite, want to keep America not smart, not sophisticated, and gullible, just like an inexorably strong cow which can be led by the nose to munch her way around the world. So many in that elite want little American children to keep being decerebrated by pledging to God, with their hand on their heart, in unison, like so many little parodies of Roman legionnaires... Both Rome and Hitler were obsessed by Iraq, so it all fits neatly together.
Oh, by the way, thanks for suggesting it would be enough to get rid of the pledge to make America into France -smart, sophisticated, and agnostic (i.e., the opposite of Ossama bin Laden). I much appreciate your optimism.