The Forgotten Vision And Values Of The American Constitution
April 30, 2018
“[w]hen the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968)
The extent to which that vision and values of the American Constitution have become a reality can be measured against the 2016 election of a barely literate psycho, racist, sexist, and consummate liar for President by “We the People.” It is very doubtful whether the combined transgressions of all 44 previous U.S. presidents — their barefaced lies, their malicious attacks on opponents and the critical media, and their blatant disregard for the rule of law — could come anywhere close to equalling those achieved by Donald Trump in a little over a year.
Equally certain is that the state of the union is now at its worst since being established on July 4, 1776 with a set of beliefs including the premise that all people are created equal, whether European, Native American, or African American, and that these people have fundamental rights, such as liberty, free speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, and freedom of assembly. While the intention of such an American concept may have been noble in theory, ignorance, double standards and hypocrisy have precluded its becoming an actuality both domestically goo.gl/zaALf5 and in foreign policy goo.gl/UWxV3k. Having said that, it must also be recognised that the calamitous state in which America now finds itself is not Donald Trump’s fault, but the fault of the American people who put him in the White House instead of the hoosegow.
American foreign policy with its presumptive arrogance of bringing democracy to other countries peaked in Vietnam when U.S. freedom-providing largesse was launched from 30,000 feet by B-52 bomber aircraft that dropped both Dumb and Guided Bombs, Fuel Air Explosives, Napalm, and Agent Orange in what can only be described as abhorrent war crimes. By the end of that war, seven million tons of bombs had been dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia which was more than twice the amount of bombs dropped on Europe and Asia in World War Two. The war’s casualties included an estimated two million Vietnamese civilian deaths with massacres such as My Lai by U.S Forces; the U.S. herbicidal warfare programme’s use of Agent Orange which killed or maimed some 400,000 and to this day is still afflicting three million as a result of birth defects — and that is without counting the millions more of their relatives who bear the brunt and hardship of looking after them; between 200,000 and 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers killed; some 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters killed; and about 58,200 members of U.S. armed forces who died or were missing. It was for the U.S. a costly, divisive, and increasingly unpopular war which in 1973 led to the U.S. forces withdrawing with their tails between their legs and the unification two years later of Vietnam under Communist control.
The anti-war sentiment in the U.S. had by 1967 witnessed Martin Luther King Jr. becoming not only the country's leading opponent of the Vietnam War, but also a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy which he viewed as being militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was assassinated — King accused the U.S. of being “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Time magazine’s reaction was to describe the speech as “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi,” while The Washington Post echoed that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.” The following is an excerpt from King’s speech:
“ . . . At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalising process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realise that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor . . . ”
The debacle in Vietnam, however, subsequently proved to be the rule rather than the exception because since June 5, 1944, the day before D-Day ― when U.S. General George S. Patton climbed onto a makeshift platform in southern England and proudly informed thousands of American soldiers that “Americans play to win all of the time . . . That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war, for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American” ― U.S. forces have experienced little other than military stalemate and loss. They have not actually won a single war on the ground ― not in Afghanistan, not in Iraq, not anywhere. They simply lay waste to infrastructures and destroy millions of lives before leaving despair and devastation in their wake.
“ . . . If America has a service to perform in the world and I believe it has it is in large part the service of its own example. In our excessive involvement in the affairs of other countries, we are not only living off our assets and denying our own people the proper enjoyment of their resources; we are also denying the world the example of a free society enjoying its freedom to the fullest. This is regrettable indeed for a nation that aspires to teach democracy to other nations, because, as Burke said, ‘Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.’
“There are many respects in which America, if it can bring itself to act with the magnanimity and the empathy appropriate to its size and power, can be an intelligent example to the world. We have the opportunity to set an example of generous understanding in our relations with China, of practical cooperation for peace in our relations with Russia, of reliable and respectful partnership in our relations with Western Europe, of material helpfulness without moral presumption in our relations with the developing nations, of abstention from the temptations of hegemony in our relations with Latin America, and of the all-around advantages of minding one's own business in our relations with everybody. Most of all, we have the opportunity to serve as an example of democracy to the world by the way in which we run our own society; America, in the words of John Quincy Adams, should be ‘the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all’ but ‘the champion and vindicator only of her own’.
“If we can bring ourselves so to act, we will have overcome the dangers of the arrogance of power. It will involve, no doubt, the loss of certain glories, but that seems a price worth paying for the probable rewards, which are the happiness of America and the peace of the world”
Senator William J. Fulbright (1905 - 1995) The Arrogance of Power, 1966.
Ultimately it is up to the American people to accept responsibility for their country’s actions and choose between policies and programs that enhance global relations such as the following: