It embarrasses me to write these words. Quoting George Washington just reeks of tackiness and a lack of imagination. And though undoubtedly wise, who says the words of America’s Founding Fathers should be held sacrosanct?
But damn it to hell, for some reason American presidents tend to speak with profound insight in their farewell speeches. Dwight D. Eisenhower did in his farewell address on the perils of the military industrial complex, and I love that speech!
So, when U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R. Ill) is quoted by Salon.com saying, “It’s the reason why I ran for the Senate, [it] is all wrapped up in this battle. I am totally dedicated to the survival of the state of Israel in the 21st century,” Washington’s words come ringing in my head like sleigh bells (especially around Christmas time).
So although I am loath to bring George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address into a debate that should be patently obvious, I feel we ought to one more time for good measure:
…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification.
Now pay attention, Kirk.
And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluged citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, SOMETIMES EVEN WITH POPULARITY; gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.”
That last part seems to describe Sen. Kirk to a T.
Moreover, the United States continues to appoint pro-Israel hawks into important positions in the mediating process between Israelis and Palestinians, time and again. Please read Noam Sheizaf’s piece on the appointment of David Markovsky. This is an enterprise doomed to fail because we repeat the mistakes of the past while not heeding the past’s wisdom, even when it comes from a few centuries ago.