Story By Ken Krayeske • 9:20 PM EST
If politics is the art of compromise, Congressman Chris Murphy and I may have found a little bit of common ground - the United States must stop acting in ways that make people hate this country.
Unfortunately, we disagree thoroughly on the means to obtain that reconciliation and rehabilitation - not only in the Islamic world, but in regards to international opinion.
Murphy appeared on WNPR's "Where We Live" this morning with John Dankosky, and said that the United States must remain the world's sole superpower. The arrogance and blind hubris of such a statement stuns.
Murphy's membership in the majority party in Congress constrains his ability to speak truth to Israel. I asked him the same basic question I posed to Rep. John Larson - what exactly must Israel do in order to merit a rebuke from the United States?
Like every other member of the Connecticut Congressional delegation, Murphy voted "yeah" on H.R. 34, a measure to support Israel's right to self-defense from early January co-sponsored by Connecticut's John Larson.
I wondered how Murphy could do so knowing that Israel, during its 22-day invasion into Gaza in December and January, targeted civilians and hospitals, schools, and ambulances? Plus, Israel used experimental munitions like dense inert metal explosives on these civilians.
"I think the resolution you speak to supported Israel's right to defend itself," Murphy said. He parroted the same tired line - If a foreign neighboring governent was lobbing rockets into our country, we would fight back, too.
There is no defense for protecting war criminals, yet Murphy tried to defend his untenable position by arguing that he supported a resolution, signed by 50 or 60 members of Congress, calling for the United States to assist residents of Gaza with humanitarian relief.
Of course we should be working to open up passages and pathways to allow aid in, as he said, but the mere fact that we can't get more than 25 percent of Congress to vote for this shows how far down the path of pure empire we have gone.
And Murphy beat a hasty retreat, reiterating his unequivocal support of Israel's right to defend itself. The United States is doing its best, he said, pointing to his perception that people in the Middle East perceive Sen. George Mitchell as an honest broker.
In my mind, an honest broker in that region cannot hail from this country, not with the amount of military aid we give to Egypt and Israel, and not with our invasion of Iraq and our history with Iran.
Instead, I might pick someone like Mary Robinson, who was both the Irish president and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. But considering that the U.S. backs Israel's regular disobedience of U.N. General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, maybe Robinson won't work.
Murphy isn't even close to that line of thought, but at least he knows that the Arab world hates us for providing the bombs and fighter planes and helicopters that Israel uses to kill children.
"We do have to be cognizant that to the extent the Muslim world sees the suffering in West Bank, that has implications for the U.S.," Murphy said. "We have to have real recognition that until we start associating ourselves with lifting up people in the Muslim world instead of putting them down," we are continuing to feed the recrutiing efforts of those who want to destroy us.
Talking a little bit of sense, Murphy said we cannot chase terrorists around the globe. "It is unsustainable in the long run," he said.
Our foreign policy, he said, must ask at its core: "What can we do to make less people in this world hate us?"
Unfortunately, Murphy's answer still involves militarism. John from Southbury, the first caller to ask about Murphy's recent trip to Afghanistan, wanted to know how we could cut the bloated military budget by five or ten percent. John astutely noted that the bailout package of $800 billion paled in comparison to our military spending.
Military spending is the reason Democrats "have been crying for the past two years for a draw down of troops in Iraq," Murphy said. "We have troops fighting and dying for a cause that makes our country less safe rather than more safe. We cannot sustain that spending."
Crying, Chris? That's disingenuous at best. The Democrats have controlled Congress for the past two years, and those Blue Dogs dutifully passed every war appropriations bill that Bush put in front of them.
The next Iraq war spending bill comes up in March, and I guarantee the Democrats pass that one, too. Murphy defended is record, saying that he never has voted for any Iraq spending plan that doesn't include a timetable for withdrawal of troops.
Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, said Congressmen and Senators should prepare to face civil disobedience arrest to end the Vietnam War. That ethical rhetoric doesn't even exist in Washington's corridors of power.
Even a five percent cut in military spending, as suggested by John from Southbury, hardly merits a mention in the Capital. But it's maybe possible in Murphy's mind. Yet as soon as the words left his lips, he backpedaled, based on Obama's commitment to increase troops in Afghanistan.
Dankosky inquired about whether or not we can draw down in Iraq without relying on Blackwater (a.k.a. Xe). Murphy understood the challenges of the Cheney military doctrine, and gladly acknowledged that the United States must maintain military dominance.
"We have privatized large swaths of our military," he said. "We still have to have a large military footprint as the world's only superpower, but we can do it without enriching these private companies like Blackwater. Why pay Blackwater two or three times what we pay a U.S. soldier?"
This begs the question: why does the United States need to be the world's policeman? Who appointed us? God is not an accceptable answer. Murphy is perfectly willing to sacrifice the children of the world at the altar of American global dominance.
Why do Americans need to go homeless so that we can provide Israel with billions in bombs to defend itself against homemade rockets powered by table sugar? Earlier in the broadcast, Murphy, in discussing the stimulus package, said that there will be shrinkage in the housing market. A natural correction means some people will have to suffer.
I don't see it like that. Housing is a right. As is education, and the $800 tax credit for students will barely cover a college class. And for those soldiers in the military to get a free college education, well, fighting for freedom is a greater reward, right?
Suppose what Blackwater mercenaries get paid is exactly what fighting in a war is worth? Clearly, we underpay soldiers, and mistreat veterans to the point of abuse - just look at the suicide rate of soldiers. So why shouldn't we budget to pay soldiers more?
For humanity to survive the age of nuclear terror, we must retire the deranged, ancient logic of "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" (it is sweet and honorable to die for one's country). But Murphy and his Democratic majority colleagues seem to think that using firepower to protect our interests overseas is business as usual.
In this aspect, the Democrats are no different than the Republicans. Back on Monday, October 6, 2003, Bush told then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that his country “must not feel constrained” in defending itself.
Echoing Bush, Murphy had not a qualm with defending Israel's ghastly, bloody incursion into Gaza. "The response is disproportional," Murphy said.
"If we were attacked, it seems fanciful, but if rockets were being lobbed into this country from Mexico and Canada," Murphy said he would expect us to use overwhelming force to repel the invasion. But Congressman Murphy, who will be the first to stop the cycle of violence?
"We are friends of Israel," he said. "We have to be criticial as well. We need to tell them when they are right and when they are wrong." But exactly what do they have to do to merit a rebuke from us? As long as Congress congratulates Israel for killing 1,400 Palestinians to only 140 or so Israelis in a ground invasion, the Muslim world will dislike us.
In the words of a master politician, Murphy managed to acknowledge that our foreign policy is bad, but still he maintained full-fledged support of Israel's war crimes. Murphy's final response to me verbatim:
"I agree with Ken and many others that make the general point whether it is Iraq, Afghanistan or Gaza we have to ask a new question regarding foreign policy: how do we give people less of a reason to join up with the extremist elements that line up against us?"
Until Murphy and his peers in Congress answer that query by rebuking Israel, the extremist movements like al Qaeda - hell bent on destroying Israel and the United States - will continue to grow. And rather than al Qaeda destroying us with brute force, the corporate capitalist military machine might collapse under its own hubris.