Excerpted from the Columnist Guild

By Mark Dankof




We are no longer the Old Republic, but the dying American Empire. The evidence is everywhere. George W. Bush has increased the size of government at every level by 25%, the largest such increase since the salad days of LBJ's Great Society. The United States is running the largest foreign trade and fiscal deficits in its history, borrowing $2 billion a day from foreign entities to finance this profligacy. The manufacturing base of the country continues to be exported abroad, even as the Corporate Elites who control the American government continue to contribute to its cultural Balkanization through the importation of cheap labor from the Third World. And only the comatose can now deny the losing character of the war of counter-insurgency currently being waged in Iraq, or the obvious move toward a military preemption of Iran. What is the purpose of this latest threat of hostilities? WMDs? Or is it a surrogate war to be waged on behalf of Israel? And what role does a Euro-based Oil Bourse on Kish Island play in all of this? The Zionist Lobby in the United States, the oil conglomerates, and the Central Bankers aren't talking, but Jim Lobe's recent piece for IPS on Western-Jewish press disinformation campaigns against Iran is hideously suggestive.

These disinformation campaigns are not simply consigned to foreign intrigue. They are directed against an unsuspecting American public as well. Check out the recent Jewish Telegraphic Agency story on Jewish Groups Seeking More Control Over U. S. Academic Life. Pardon my language, but who in hell do these people think they are? Their lock-stock-and-barrel ownership of the American Congress, media, and educational institutions is already undeniable. The role of the Likudniks in influencing the decision of American Neo-Conservatives to invade Iraq is similarly a matter of public record. So must the First Amendment now be denied to academics and students in the United States who are not enamored of the force-feeding of AIPAC and ADL propaganda on the Middle Eastern controversy to the unwilling? Is this the Bush-Blair definition of freedom?

The implication is clear: anyone in America, Left, Middle, or Right not on board with the Party Line is now the real or potential target of overt harassment and intimidation: Your electronic communications can be intercepted by the National Security Agency (NSA) without court order or warrant; the USA Patriot Act has jettisoned 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, and made warrantless break-ins the order of the day. And as Gordon Thomas recently told the Canada Free Press, "extraordinary renditions" being conducted by the Langley-based Counter-Intelligence Surveillance Center (CISC) now involve the running of the abducted to secret torture centers, for procedures not designed to see daylight, or the oversight of traditional Western jurisprudence.

On this Memorial Day weekend, are we truly the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? Or have the lies and coercion of the Corporate Conglomerates and the Central State forced us into a cowardly silence of acquiescence in the face of the evidence that the Old Republic of Jefferson and Madison has become an unrecognizable conduit for Friendly Fascism in the twilight of our days? When we visit National Cemeteries and the sponsored events of the American Legion and VFW this weekend, do the speeches and star-spangled flags make us think of Concord, Lexington, and Gettysburg, or does today's front-page Washington Post story on U. S. Marine atrocities in Haditha on November 19th suggest a different reason for the shedding of American tears--an admission of the soul-shredding truth that the equation of today's America with that of the Founding Fathers is a myth, reaching epic levels of absolute unsustainability?

There is a final punctuation mark on my Memorial Day weekend meditations.

I helped bury an old friend on May 17th in a military honors funeral at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. As the final strains of taps faded away in the cemetery laden with war dead, I unobtrusively searched the faces of the survivors for a hint that any of them might harbor my own secret thoughts and reflections on the metamorphosis of a Republic Turned Empire that have permeated my own heart in these dark days headed toward war and national eclipse. If there was any hint of such evidence, I missed it. After the pastoral benediction, I walked silently and quickly to my car, and negotiated a quiet exit from the premises. I did not look back, even through the rear-view mirror.

My own tears that day were invisible ones of the heart: for my friend, for an America long since elapsed in time, and for the future deaths of those whose lives will be tragically lost very soon, bathed in the rhetoric of The Federalist, but in truth enshrouded in the secret agenda of the Gnomes of Zurich, London, New York, Washington, and Tel Aviv.

May God protect the lives of the dear and innocent in the true spirit of Memorial Day.