Public Comment

A Letter the Chron Turned Down

By Gar Smith
Thursday April 25, 2013 - 02:43:00 PM

On April 22, the Chronicle ran a story ("Pentagon chief stresses Israel's right to strike") in which US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel explained that, because Tel Aviv felt threatened by Tehran, it had the right to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran.

When and if Tel Aviv decides to pounce, Hagel added, the US will be duty-bound to protect Israel. This news prompted the following letter to the Chronicle. The Chron's editors elected not to print it.

To the Editor / SF Chronicle:

I ran into Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel the other day.

I felt threatened, so I punched him in the face.

"Just deploying your 'George Zimmerman' theory of deterence," I explained. (Zimmerman, of course, is the self-appointed peacekeeper who stalked and killed a "suspicious," unarmed youth named Trayvon Martin.) 

I reminded Hagel of his recent statement that Israel retains a "sovereign right" to decide to attack Iran "to defend itself." 

(The idea of "launching an attack in self-defense" is an exercise of Doublespeak that would make Orwell giddy. No country has a "sovereign right" to wage a "pre-emptive" war on another country. "Pre-emptive strike" is Doublespeak for "aggression.") 

The problem is, I told Hagel (who was still rubbing his jaw), when you attack based on suspicions rather than concrete actions, things can go bad. Remember Iraq? No WMDs. More than a million civilians dead. 

Another problem. If Israel makes that "decision," the US has promised to "defend Israel." That means it is Israel (not Congress, not even the President or the Pentagon) that will decide when the US goes to war. 

With Tel Aviv in charge of US foreign policy, that would seem to leave Israel's leaders free to commit aggression -- "the ultimate war crime." Washington has abdicated its own sovereignty. 

As Hagel struggled to his feet, I punched him again. 

Not because I felt threatened, this time. As an American, I simply felt betrayed. 

Gar Smith 

(Note: This letter is satirical. In real-life, I am a staunch advocate of nonviolence.)