Unlike my friends, my enemies are selected with great care and the utmost discrimination. There was a time when I credited the orders of my commanders on questions of hostility, but I know better now. Today, even the declarations of a president or secretary of state don’t persuade me, and I have a tendency to oppose people who want to choose my enemies for me.
Take the case of Yemen (conveniently, an anagram of the word “enemy”). Airplanes from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has a common border with Yemen, are dropping bombs on its capital city as I write. From what we read, it’s not clear exactly what the Saudi princes are trying to accomplish by killing a lot of Yemenis, but one thing is perfectly clear: Saudi Arabians are friends of the USA, and anybody they drop bombs on is our enemy. And if I don’t happen to support their bombing and killing, I’m giving aid and comfort to an enemy my government has selected for me. More and more, it’s becoming a knee-jerk reaction for me to take the side of the assigned enemy.
One big problem is the record of the people who have been trying to persuade me. In my name and with my money over the course of decades, they have shed oceans of innocent blood to punish “enemies” who have been, without exception, illusory. In my lifetime, no foreign country, no competing culture, no religion, no organized group of any kind has posed any threat to the USA. Only a fool would believe it was necessary to kill millions of dark-skinned people thousands of miles away to accomplish this, and most people don’t believe that. So degraded is our reputation in the world that the sympathies of most people are with our enemies.
Another big problem is logic. Iran has been selected as an enemy, a status it’s held for over 30 years. It poses no danger whatsoever to the USA. For hundreds of years, its relations with its neighbors have been peaceful. It has a reputation for mutual tolerance among the various religious and ethnic groups that make up its population. Other than political differences–Iranian leaders are notoriously (and justifiably) critical of European and American involvement in North Africa and the MIddle East–there is no logical reason for Iran to be an enemy.
Adding to the confusion is the complicated character of the interactions among opposing forces. Iran’s our enemy, and it’s also an ally of Syria, which has been engaged in a bloody war with a group that we call “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” ISIS, for short, which is itself at war with the US-supported government of Iraq, which has aligned itself with Iran in opposing both ISIS and the Saudi Arabian bombing of Yemen, contrary to the pro-war policy of the US government, which is currently negotiating with the government of Iran an agreement that will be fiercely opposed by our close ally Israel, whose intelligence services are known to carry out espionage against the USA as if it were an enemy and not an ally and which, along with Canada, is known to provide material support to ISIS. You try to isolate the enemy of peace in all this, and what you come up with this: It’s US. We know it. The world knows it.
If the enemy of peace is my government, then I’m obliged, on principle, to oppose that government when it assigns enemies. When my government tells me to revile Palestinians, as it does, I take their side. When my government tells me Russians are evil, I’ll be rootin’ for Putin. I’m with the Yemenis that are under the bombs of the Saudi jets, and I have nothing but admiration for Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Ho Chi Minh. I don’t believe my government can ever regain credibility with me, and I decline to accept its enemies as my own.
It’s not likely that my skepticism and insubordination will give much aid or comfort to its enemies. On the other hand, it’s a certainty that worldwide revulsion and rage at US brutality are of immeasurable value to its adversaries.