The Greek dramatist Aeschylus wrote, around 500 BC, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”
If only it were that simple.
On July 20, 1993, Vince Foster’s body was found in Fort Marcy Park in McLean, Va. Although three separate investigations ruled Foster’s demise a suicide, some conspiracy theorists still believe that Hillary and Bill Clinton were somehow involved in his death.
On Sept. 11, 2012, terrorists attacked an American compound in Benghazi Libya, killing four Americans, including our ambassador.
In spite of mea culpas, explanations and investigations, some theorists are maintaining that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama are conspiring to keep the truth of some alleged personal culpability and malfeasance from the American people.
I’m sure that not everything is yet known about what happened that tragic night in Cyrenaica. Consider, however, that our government has a right to deliberate on how/what information is released so as not to jeopardize American interests and assets — like the existence of a CIA ops center in Benghazi that we had kept secret from the Libyans.
Conspiracy theorists, aided and abetted by online “news syndicates” such as Breibart and Drudge, and some U.S. senators and congressmen, have worked their poisonous venom into the veins of some members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee who are opposed to President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense — an opposition that unfortunately includes U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
“Just because they all have wombs doesn’t mean they are all equal, or that we should celebrate them equally.”
That’s one of the comments I received when I celebrated that New Hampshire was the first state to have elected an all-female congressional delegation.
A grad student majoring in International Affairs, the commenter continued, “I won’t honor a person whom I can’t trust to protect my, or America’s, interests.
Ayotte’s performance on both Benghazi and Hagel’s nomination process has, sadly, proven my reader correct: The womb is no defense against partisanship and ignorance.
Sen. Ayotte has intentionally chosen to align herself with the parochial, narrow interests of Republicans who don’t fear showing the world that party is more important than patriotism, who don’t fear flaunting their ignorance in public.
“The behavior of some of the new members on the Hagel nomination is way over the line — disgraceful!,” wrote Charles Stevenson, a former professor at the National War College. “They show no respect for the institution and are likely to poison its ability to work in a collaborative way. They are also hurting the institution of the office of secretary of defense and thus undermining our system of civilian control.”
Republicans have never given President Obama a chance to govern, as Democrats did, sometimes grudgingly, for Ronald Reagan. Democrats never conspired, to the best of our knowledge, on inauguration night, to make Reagan a “one-term president,” as some Republications did.
Today’s Republicans believe that party and discipline rise above the Constitution, above the precedents and parliamentary traditions of its institutions, and, most alarmingly, above the electoral wishes of the majority of Americans who twice elected Barack Obama to be commander-in-chief.
Were the Hagel hearings a way of disenfranchising a president they believe is illegitimate? Were they a way of appeasing Tea Party bigotry? Was it anger against Hagel for his positions on Iraq and his belief that negotiating with enemies is also a viable strategic tool?
Do Sens. McCain and Graham consider Chuck Hagel’s emergence a rebuke of foreign policy initiatives that they embraced — and which failed?
Why? They shouldn’t need Chuck Hagel sitting in front of them to know that today Iraq is a failed state, that the initiatives for “democratic” elections in Iraq and Palestine that they supported were ignominious failures and that the rise of Iran as a regional power is a direct result of American narrow-mindedness and strategic incompetence.
They forgot to be humble. They are unable to embrace truth.
It’s hard work, and sometimes risky, to be well-informed. You have to know how to read critically, often from competing texts. You need to take the time to process, parse and discern — to separate truth from partisanship. You need to challenge prevailing mythologies and risk talking to unpopular theorists.
It’s hard work: You have to be willing to stand alone — willing not only to Live Free or Die, but willing to think free — and perhaps lose re-election. Protecting America’s interests is hard work, especially when you feel simultaneously obliged to protect your own ideological and fundraising flanks.
Sadly, these committee members and their ideological allies have chosen to align themselves with malevolent conspiracy theorists and cranky, discredited NeoCons, with those who believe that the Iraq war was a great success and who believe that America can project force around the globe without regard to consequences — rather than align themselves with American interests, which are themselves complicated, nuanced and multilateral.
Sadly, committee members and their allies have chosen to align themselves with Israel’s right-wing Likudnik policy positions rather than consider how American strategic interests would benefit if warring parties could reach a comprehensive regional peace.
Pray with me that this madness in Washington will soon end.
Awakening in an increasingly more diverse nation, American moderates, independents, pluralists and political realists will remember what was done in our name at this time, at these hearings, and they will speak out.
An America once ruled by a cabal of privileged white men is coming to an end. This cabal, which represents those who believe that uppity Barack Hussein Obama shouldn’t be commander-in-chief, whose ideological forebears once denied citizens of color and citizens with wombs the right to vote, is thankfully breathing its last.
These dark ages will not last forever.
This column appeared originally in the Portsmouth Herald.