Vol. 34 No. 1 1967 - page 53

Destiny, though the limits were once set by the borders of the continent,
while today America's destiny embraces the entire world. There are still
more hordes of redskins to be mowed down before virtue triumphs; as the
classic western movies explain, the only good Red is a dead Red. This
may sound like an exaggeration to those who live in the special and
more finely modulated atmosphere of New York and its environs. Cross
the Hudson. You find out that not just
Americans, but virtually
all Americans feel that way.
Of course, these people don' t know what they're saying, literally.
But that's no excuse. That, in fact, is what makes it all possible. The un–
quenchable American moralism and the American faith in violence are
not just twin symptoms of some character neurosis taking the form of a
protracted adolescence, which presages an eventual maturity. They con–
stitute a full grown, firmly-installed national psychosis, founded, as are
all psychoses, on the efficacious denial of reality. So far it's worked.
Except for portions of the South a hundred years ago, America has never
known war. A taxi driver said to me on the day that could have been
Armageddon, when America and Russia were on collision course off the
shores of Cuba: "Me, I'm not worried. I served in the last one, and now
I'm over draft age. They can't get me again. But I'm all for letting 'em
have it right now. What are we waiting for? Let's get it over with."
Since wars always happen Over There, and we always win, why not
drop the bomb?
all it takes is pushing a button, even better. For
America is that curious hybrid-an apocalyptic country and a valetudina–
rian country. The average citizen may harbor the fantasies of John
Wayne, but he as often has the temperament of J ane Austen's Mr.
To answer, briefly, some of
I do
think that Johnson is forced by "our system" to act as he
is acting. For instance, in Vietnam, where each evening he personally
chooses the bombing targets for the next day's missions. But I think there
is something awfully wrong with a
de facto
system which allows the
President virtually unlimited discretion in pursuing an immoral and im–
prudent foreign policy, so that the strenuous opposition of, say, the
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee counts for--exactly
nothing. The
de jure
system vests the power to make war in the Congress
-with the exception, apparently, of imperialist ventures and genocidal
expeditions. These are best left undeclared.
However, I don't mean to suggest that Johnson's foreign policy
the whim of a clique which has seized control, escalated the power of the
Chief Executive, castrated the Congress and manipulated public opinion.
Johnson is, alas, all too representative. As Kennedy was not.
there is
1...,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52 54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,...164
Powered by FlippingBook