Cursed to see the future
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, March 12, 2015


Some people just can’t resist an argument, even when the cause is a copy of their recent column about the Middle East arriving from Beverly by snailmail with a beard and mustache penned onto the columnist’s face. Thank you, Salem News, for forwarding my mail.

I had referred to “Israel, which has achieved so much against centuries of terrible odds.” The snarky question sent by the artist was “What year was the nation of Israel founded?”

My response (because other, nicer people may have wondered) is “depends on how you define ‘nation’ and ‘founded.’”

According to the U.S. State Department website, “On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day.”

But because of my own Judeo-Christian heritage, I think of Israel as an ancient land, defined, presently, in Wikipedia: “The first record of the name Israel occurs in the Merneptah stele, erected for Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah c. 1209 BCE, ‘Israel is laid waste and his seed is not.’… William Dever sees this ‘Israel’ in the central highlands as a cultural and probably political entity, more an ethnic group rather than an organized state.”

For anyone in Beverly who might not know: “c. 1209 BCE” stands for circa 1209 Before the Common Era, also known as BC, before Christ; roughly 3,224 years ago. As I said, “centuries.”

Thank you, Wikipedia, I’ll send another check soon; I find your service very handy, taking the place of the World Book encyclopedia that took up two shelves in my bookcase and was a tad outdated, since my parents bought it for me for my 12th birthday, because I didn’t keep up with the annual supplements. With this early encouragement, I’ve tried through my life to be factually accurate. I’ve tried to get my opinions right too; this can be more fairly an area of dispute with you, the readers.

But I have to tell ya, sometimes I feel like Cassandra, cursed to see the future but not be believed until it’s too late (see Trojan War, horse). For what seems a very long time, people of my political persuasion have been predicting the decline of our civilization if citizens don’t wake up, pay attention, study history, get involved; our ranks were increased by tea party newcomers in 2010, but decreased by the shortened attention span of modern America, among other things.

Until recently, my side had major victories, most notably the defeat of communism with the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1992. However, like everyone else, even knowing world history, we didn’t see the modern rise of radical Islam and ridiculous demand for a new caliphate!

Which brings me to another recent column (September 2014) that I’ve been thinking might need an admission I was wrong. I was appalled by the Obama administration’s plan to send 3,000 troops to western Africa countries suffering from an Ebola epidemic. Though we were assured their mission would be to “help build treatment facilities and… assist in patient transportation…not provide direct care to Ebola patients,” I wrote, “Is that what our warrior men and women signed up to do? Or did they think they were going to fight terrorists... .” and asked if “some of the 3,000 troops will bring the virus home and begin its spread among our population?”

Little was written about the mission over the winter, except to assure us that returning troops will be briefly quarantined. I found a recent article in the Wall Street Journal telling us that the mission is almost done “the U.S. military is expected to pull out most of the 1,300 American forces currently working in West Africa, where officials believe the crisis has largely been contained. By the end of April, only 100 troops are expected to remain to provide support for the civilians still battling the disease.

“Administration officials said the end of the major U.S. military role didn’t signal an end to America’s efforts to fight Ebola in West Africa. The U.S. is providing funding and support for 10,000 medical professionals and support staff working across the region… The U.S. military built 10 Ebola treatment units and helped with the construction of four others in West Africa.”

This brings up a longstanding debate about foreign aid, foreign involvement, which will certainly be part of the next election. While many of us object to American taxpayer dollars handed over to foreign dictators, it may be that carefully targeted American assistance may have more impact on general foreign policy than sending our men and women to war.

This is one theory behind the troops throughout the Middle East, as well as Africa, making friends of the populace, training them, helping them with famine and epidemic: that they will see America as the Great Good instead of the Great Satan image promoted by ISIS. Of course, I’ve heard this since Vietnam — “winning the hearts and minds of the population.” It seems to make sense; but I’d like to see data on if and when it has worked throughout history, in place of war.

Just received a friendly email about my last column concerning Republican caving on the probably illegal Obama executive order re: illegal immigration. Suzanne asked how the two ideologically estranged Republican factions are going to quit attacking one another. “To get along, compromise is required. Who blinks on what the ‘right thing for America is’ in order to accomplish a united strategy?”

Great question. I’m sure I have a good answer, somewhere. Will let you know when I find it.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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