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The USS Liberty Incident as a Basis for anti-Israel US Policy November 8, 2019

Posted by Tantumblogo in fightback, General Catholic, pr stunts, secularism, sickness, Society, the struggle for the Church.
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This post both got too long and is some deep-inside baseball stuff on small aspects of the conservative movement.  But, I’m a Youtube addict and this is a matter that is attracting much attention, there.  It has to do with fringe elements of the conservative movement among younger millenials and Zoomers and their criticisms of more mainstream conservatism. I agree with much of what they have to say but disagree on one particular element.  That’s not even true, I don’t mind changing US policy towards Israel, but I just don’t see how it’s germane to the other topics, or why it needs to be such a huge focus of their attention, and I think it is a very dangerous game that could lead to severe damage not just to these youngsters but the entire conservative agenda and even the re-election chances of Donald Trump. At any rate, the part on the Liberty is in italics, you can read just that if you want.  The whole thing is probably TL;DR.

I have seen a growing movement online among primarily young men – many of them under the influence of E. Michael Jones and also the  Youtube personality Nick Fuentes (who presents as an orthodox if not traditional Catholic) – who are vociferously criticizing slightly more mainstream conservatives such as Matt Walsh, Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, and others at various public events.  They call themselves “groypers” and they advocate an “America First” vision of conservatism which is very similar to certain strains of pre-WWII conservatism in the US.  That is, they advocate for a much more isolationist foreign policy, they are extremely concerned over the threat posed to this nation’s culture (such as it is) and government by unconstrained immigration, legal and illegal, and they have very strong criticisms towards Israel that, at times, seem to tip into anti-semitism, though the “groypers” deny the charge.  While there is much to admire in this movement, I believe this anti-Israel stand is ultimately going to prove counterproductive and even destructive of their aims.

Tactically speaking, there is no way to get labeled an “alt-right” fascist quicker than to start throwing rhetorical bombs at Israel.  There is certainly room for criticism of US policy towards Israel, but given the bias in the media, the historical past, and the, how shall I say, extreme friendliness of the political/cultural elite in the current culture towards Israel and Zionism generally, making loud and very brash and broad criticisms of Israel is a very short path towards getting your movement labeled extremist, fascist, Nazi-like, etc.  That may not be fair, but it’s the reality.

As I said, there is much to admire in these “groypers.”  They are well organized, dedicated, and largely coherent.  I have no problems with, and indeed strongly concur on a number of the policy positions they advocate, especially those related to immigration.  I believe at this time and place in American history, we need to not only control illegal immigration but put in place a practical moratorium on legal immigration for a period of 20 or 30 years, to allow for assimilation of those teeming millions who have flooded our country over the past 50 years.  I also have no problem with a more coherent and thoughtful foreign policy that gets away from the “troops first, ask questions later” mentality of the past 18 years.  That has gotten us nowhere in terms of advancing American interests and has indeed led to the needless expenditure of trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.  It has left the Mideast much worse off, from a geopolitical standpoint, than it was 20 years ago.

But many Americans, myself included, are probably more than a little confused what Israel has to do with any of this.  The “groypers” claim that the US involvement in the Mideast has been done at Israel’s behest, but this is a case they are far from proving, and in fact they tend to resort to hand-waving very quickly when questioned.  When asked why the US should stop supporting Israel with – frankly speaking, relative to the federal budget – paltry sums of a few billions dollars a year (about $4 billion).  Most of that money winds up coming back to the US in the form of the purchase of defense hardware.

The ”groypers” frequently insist that Israel is not the US’ friend and that we have no business supporting them.  While this is a highly debated question and one I don’t need to go into now, one of their primary justifications for this claim is the USS Liberty incident.  In this, I’m afraid they err, and quite possibly, tip their hand more than they intend to.

The attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, is one of those incidents in history that has attracted far more attention and controversy than it has any right to.  A US surveillance ship in international waters was attacked by Isreali fighter aircraft on the 4th day of the Six Day War.  Israeli aircraft were constantly traversing this region of the Mediterranean going to and from targets in Egypt, whose military they obliterated in the course of a few days.  The USS Liberty was in the area under NSA orders to gather intelligence on both sides, but particularly the Egyptians, who used mostly Soviet hardware.  The ship was strafed and torpedoed repeatedly, with 34 men killed, 171 wounded, and the ship almost sunk.

Israel quickly apologized for the attack and paid some degree of compensation, but ever since, many people, including a number of the Liberty’s survivors, have claimed that the vessel was deliberately attacked by Israel, for what reason is never quite made clear, or makes much sense.  The US was at that time Israel’s largest and just about only ally.  How Israel would benefit from this attack is also far from clear. 

But, some survivors and those who feel the attack was deliberately made claim, Israel had to know it was a US ship!  It was flying an American flag!  Israel had been notified of the ship’s presence!  Unfortunately, the notification of the ship’s presence never made it to the Israeli Air Force and the squadron involved in the attack.  False reports of Egyptian ships shelling Israeli units in Sinai caused alarm in Israel’s chain of command.  Aircraft were dispatched to investigate.  They found the Liberty, and attacked.

But still, the flag!  They should have known it was a US ship!  Also, the Liberty was a converted freighter, which looks nothing like a warship.  They should have, they must have known. 

This is where a little knowledge of military history enters in.  In fact, misidentification of ships by aircraft is a constant, severe, and ongoing problem.  Air force pilots are rarely well trained in ship identification.  Even naval aviation pilots often make severe mistakes.  How severe? A few examples:

  1. British pilots attacked US ships in several of the Malta convoys during WWII in the same region – the Mediterranean.
  2. US pilots at Coral Sea, the Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz, and the Philippine Sea constantly misreported attacks. The Japanese did the same in all these battles, and more.  The Japs sank USS Neosho, an 8000 ton oiler, at the Coral Sea, and thought they had sunk the USS Lexington, a 40,000 ton, 900 foot long aircraft carrier (they did, later).  US pilots reported sinking battleships and aircraft carriers when they had actually slightly damaged a freighter or a destroyer.  US pilots attacked US ships.  German pilots attacked Italian ships.  This kind of thing happened all the time.  There were literally dozens of such incidents. 
  3. At the invasion of Sicily, Allied warplanes attacked allied ships of the invasion fleet right off the coast, in spite being briefed that is exactly where they would be!

And these were largely aircraft piloted by very experienced men who were experts in identifying ships!  It goes to show how incredibly difficult it is to ID a ship from a fast moving aircraft.  And fast moving is very relative.  Those mistakes in WWII were made by men flying aircraft at perhaps 250 kts.  A jet fighter will be going twice that speed, making identification all the more difficult. During the infamous Gulf of Tonkin incident, Vice Admiral and later Vice Presidential candidate James Stockdale came within an ace of unloading his ordinance on a US destroyer, mistaking it for a North Vietnamese PT boat, which is about 1/6th the size of a destroyer. 

The same applies to the torpedo boats which attacked the Liberty.  While not as common as aircraft friendly fire attacks on ships, in the fog of war instances of “blue on blue” or accidental attacks by surface ships are still quite frequent.  During WWII, the motor torpedo boats – PT boats in US parlance – were a frequent source of accidental, US-on-US attacks.  One particularly famous incident was during the 2nd Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, when the US’ best battleship admiral in history, Willis Augustus Lee, had to make an emergency, plain-language, unencrypted call to the nearby PT boat squadron base to keep them from attacking his ships.  And that, too, was a close run thing.  Now, most of these same side surface ship attacks occurred at night, when visibility is of course much worse, but they have been known to happen at day.  So, what happened with the Liberty is not all that surprising.

And I think that’s one of the reasons this has become such a persistent conspiracy theory, one maintained, to a large degree, by some of the Liberty’s survivors.  If I’m right, their suffering and the deaths of their friends were the result of an accident, and thus devoid of meaning.  That’s a hard thing to take.  It’s too much for some people.  So, instead of accepting this likelihood, they have created a mythos that the attack was deliberate.

The “groypers”, almost every time they bring up Israel, have referenced this attack as a reason why the US should have a neutral, if not hostile, attitude towards that nation.  The Liberty incident seems to play a major role in their ideology regarding Israel.  But I think the evidence overwhelmingly indicates this an entirely false premise.

And, as I said, I think it’s a serious mistake tactically, and I think it points to some unfortunate biases that have crept into their thinking.  It is not an understatement to note that E. Michael Jones has laid much, if not almost all, of the blame for the current collapse of Christendom at the feet of the perfidious Jews.  Much of his analysis is based on conspiratorial reads of historical and cultural developments and points towards a deliberate destruction of that culture perpetrated by one group of people.  As I indicated above, many of these “groypers,” including two of their leaders, are very open about the degree to which they are influenced by Jones, which is far more than slightly.  Thus, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that some of those they are attacking react by calling them anti-semites. At least some of the “groypers” were previously involved in the increasingly marginalized “alt-right” of extreme racist and anti-Semite Richard Spencer.  The “groypers” purported outrage, then, at being called anti-semitic is perhaps at least somewhat disingenuous.

Again, this is not to say that all criticism of Israel is out of bounds, nor that it is unacceptable to suggest completely changing US policy with regard to that nation.  It’s more  how they’ve done it, and the degree to which they have made it such a focus of their rhetoric, exclaiming that those who support Israel are guilty of “dual loyalty” (a very old anti-semitic trope), etc.

I also have a problem with another aspect of their tactics, which is the zero-sum game mentality, which holds that in order for them to rise, they must tear others down.  Number 1 “groyper” Fuentes goes on for hours almost nightly about how they must essentially destroy the reputations and influence of the likes of Charlie Kirk, Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, Matt Walsh, Dan Crenshaw, etc., in order to “get a seat at the table” and advance this supposed “America-first” agenda.  Now, I can understand on some level this desire, as conservatism has been cursed for decades with leadership that is full of lying, self-serving fools who disdain the base and their views and only play at being conservative for long enough to get elected or their cushy, “Conservative, Inc”  jobs. Indeed, Fuentes does make some distinctions, and seems to recognize that some people are much more honest and convicted conservatives than others.  He seems to have particular ire for Charlie Kirk/Turning Point USA and Dan Crenshaw, who he thinks are RINO shills with no real conservative principles.  So, some of these people may need to be exposed.

But……….the “groypers” have laid traps for other, much more stalwart conservatives like Shapiro, Walsh, and Crowder.  I think this kind of internecine, destructive warfare is not helpful in the long run.

Which is why the thought has crossed my mind that some or much of this “groyper” movement might be plants – just as the leftists loved the “alt-right” and Richard Spencer and gave him a platform every chance they could, in order to try to discredit conservatives generally as hateful, fascist bigots.  I would not say I’m convinced of their being plants, not even close, really, but it is something I will continue to ponder as I observe the actions of the “groypers.”