Cashing in on the Bush Doctrine

Don’t worry, say the hegemonists, be happy. Forget that we’re spending far too much on maintaining the biggest military machine the world has ever seen, and throwing multi-billions more into manipulating and managing “spontaneous” movements for “regime change” around the world. Foreign Affairs magazine tells us, in an article with the hubris-laden title of “How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Current Account Deficit,” that “overstretch” is “a myth.” It’s the foreign policy equivalent of Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s declaration that “we owe it to ourselves.” There is such a thing as a free lunch, after all. We can spend, spend, and spend again – and the bill will never come. Or, if it does, only the little people will be hurt, as Foreign Affairs reassures its elite readers:

“Although the period of global rebalancing would be painful for U.S. consumers and workers, it would be even harder on the European and Japanese economies, with their propensity for deflation and stagnation. Such a transitory adjustment would be unpleasant, but it would not undermine the economic foundations of U.S. hegemony.”

Translation: screw the workers and consumers. U.S. “hegemony” is more important than their selfish desire to work for a living. So what if the dollar collapses, capital flight ensues, and we experience an economic crash in the U.S. – it will be far worse for the foreign suckers who spent all those years financing our debt, and, besides that, the Empire is forever.

The real threat, says this Foreign Affairs piece co-authored by David H. Levy and Stuart S. Brown, isn’t economic reality – the latest “wave” of the “technological revolution” will save us from that. No, the real threat is “isolationism,” i.e., the unwillingness of all those “little people” to endure the pain of “global rebalancing” set in motion by our rulers’ foreign policy of perpetual war and global intimidation.

Oh, but don’t worry: some of us will do very well, in spite of renewed inflation and looming economic disaster on a world scale. The war industry is racking up record profits, and certain other government-favored industries with important political connections will also do well, no matter what happens.

The reason is because, instead of investing in such boring and utterly conventional items as innovative technology and other new products that people want to buy, they’re investing in … revolution.

Say You Want a Revolution,” is the title of a piece by neoconservative Michael “Faster Please” Ledeen, a tireless advocate of the U.S. waging endless wars of “liberation,” and Peter Ackerman, chairman of the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). Its theme: more U.S. tax dollars to fund “revolutionaries” in a new model of “regime change” – as in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. According to these two, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria are next. Now, before you say anything, it’s just a coincidence that all these countries are in the Middle East and just happen to be Israel’s worst enemies – stop being such a killjoy! Besides, the “revolutionaries” are ready to roll, but they can’t do it without U.S. tax dollars and other assistance.

Okay, so we know who Ledeen is, but who’s this guy Ackerman? Some hippie who believes in “nonviolence”? Not quite. The ICNC is an interesting group, one that has been at the center of machinations that have felled regimes from Belgrade to Bishkek and back – go here for a fascinating account – but rather than look at the somewhat vaporous politics of Ackerman & Co., let’s follow the money….

In an interview with Jesse Walker of Reason magazine, Jack DuVall, ICNC president, claimed that “The whole U.S. assistance thing is way overplayed.”

Is it really? This actually makes a certain amount of sense: after all, why else would why DuVall’s pal Ackerman be writing op-ed pieces with Ledeen pleading for more and bigger subsidies? So where is the Center’s funding coming from? It just so happens that the Vice Chairman of the ICNC is one Berel Rodal, who just happens to be managing director of Hillman Capital Corporation of New York, a management consulting and investment banking firm. Now check out a piece on the financial scandal involving Hollinger International, Richard Perle, and other top neoconservatives, by Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post, entitled – appropriately enough – “Big Perks in a Small World”:

“There’s Washington superhawk Richard Perle, who heads Hollinger Digital, the company’s venture capital arm. Seems that Hollinger Digital put $2.5 million in a company called Trireme Partners, which aims to cash in on the big military and homeland security buildup. As luck would have it, Trireme’s managing partner is none other than … Richard Perle.

“Perle, of course, has been pushing hard for just such a military buildup from his other perch at the Pentagon’s secretive and influential Defense Policy Board, where there are a number of other Friends of Hollinger.

“There’s Gerald Hillman, managing partner of Hillman Capital, which also got a $14 million investment from Hollinger, according to the Financial Times. Hillman is also a partner at Trireme.”

How very cozy. Gerald P. Hillman, by the way, is a member of the Defense Policy Board, which, up until recently, was chaired by Richard Perle – who was forced to resign because of the financial shenanigans uncovered by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker. As the rest of us file our tax returns while morosely contemplating the enormity of the war machine we’re forced to support, these guys are laughing all the way to the bank. From Business Week, April 7, 2003:

“So with a $75 billion (and counting) war underway and a multibillion-dollar reconstruction plan on the drawing board, hawks on advisory panels are well-positioned. Perle, with fellow Defense Advisory Board members Henry A. Kissinger and Gerald P. Hillman, has already set up a venture-capital firm, Trireme Partners, to invest in defense and homeland-security companies. ‘It looks like hell,’ says Charles Lewis, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity. ‘We’re waging war, and a number of the people serving on these bodies stand to make money from it.'”

Okay, so let’s play “Follow the Money”: the U.S. government pours money into Hillman Capital via contracts with its subsidiaries and investments, and some of the money goes to DuVall’s outfit – which keeps generating more business for Hillman as countries like “liberated” Ukraine and Georgia become outposts of the Empire, join NATO, and come in for U.S. subsidies, much of which goes to the armaments industry. (Hello there, Trireme Partners!) Yet DuVall has the gall to say that U.S. government subsidies to the “pro-democracy” movement in Ukraine are “way overstated.”

Puh-leeeeze.

The little stormtroopers of the “democratic” revolutions are in most cases unwitting foot-soldiers of War Profits, Inc., a closely held corporation of ideologues, adventurers, and high-finance fat cats. But DuVall and Ledeen know the score.

A malign alliance of arms manufacturers, investment banks, and “idealistic” intellectuals cut from the same cloth as Ledeen, DuVall & Co. is energizing the drive to achieve U.S. world hegemony under the rubric of spreading “democracy.” They constitute what might be called an axis of evil in the foreign policy realm, one gifted with nearly unlimited resources in pushing their agenda of perpetual war and total power. Chameleon-like, they readily assume “left” and “right“-wing forms, appropriating the language of whatever audience they’re trying to manipulate: they speak the harsh language of nationalism and super-patriotism as well as the more polite PC lingo of “humanitarian intervention” and “human rights” internationalism. Ledeen invokes Mussolini’s ghost, while the ICNC channels Martin Luther King and Gandhi. It’s all the same message, however, only with different rhetorical boilerplate to suit the occasion: America must “lead” the world, our destiny as guardian of the globe is preordained. Anything less is dreaded “isolationism.”

War, as Randolph Bourne famously pointed out, is the health of the State – but it sickens and kills the rest of us. A few profit greatly, while the majority must pay – in tax dollars and the blood of our children. Remember that, this Tax Day, when you mail that check off, made payable to the U.S. Treasury. Imagine if you had to make it out to, say, Trireme Partners, or Hillman Capital, or Boeing-Lockheed-Martin-Whomever directly – think what a difference in perception that would make. Because that’s what’s really going on. The redistribution of wealth from the lower and middle classes to a government-connected financial elite: that’s not laissez-faire capitalism, or anything close to free-market economics – that’s political plutocracy.

The plutocrats don’t care if the U.S. goes bankrupt and the dollar collapses along with the American economy. That just means that we’ll have to “rebalance,” but the big boys will come out ahead, and there’s a silver lining to all these dark clouds of economic disaster: “overvalued” assets can be scarfed up by big investors in the know at bargain basement prices. So let’s keep spending multi-billions we don’t have on the world’s mightiest war machine, and let’s keep barreling along spreading “democracy” (i.e., American power and influence) at warp speed and as far afield as Kyrgyzstan, until it all goes bust and the bill comes due. The hoi polloi will be left with the tab, while the war profiteers are nowhere to be seen. The costs of big government and war are socialized, while the profits are “privatized” – that’s the credo of the Welfare-Warfare State.

Leftist critics of our foreign policy of global intervention point to this system of war profiteering – of a foreign policy engineered by corporate interests for their own benefit – as an indictment of capitalism. It is nothing of the sort. The interplay of government and corporate interests is made possible by the marriage of economy and state. A divorce, and not a strengthening of the marital vows, is the only way to break the power of the War Party. Laissez-faire is the only alternative to the Welfare-Warfare State.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is editor-at-large at Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].