The Next World War

All the wheels and pulleys of a very familiar narrative are swinging into motion, creaking and grating against gears, as the usual suspects grind out their war propaganda. Every day, it seems, there is some newly discovered quotation from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran in which he seems to be auditioning for the part of Hitler’s doppelganger. There is, in short, nothing like the threat of another war to get Antiwar.com’s readers’ attention and focus them on the importance of this Web site.

The great danger of war with Iran as an imminent possibility resides not only in this administration’s proven warlike proclivities, but in the very similar appetites of the “opposition” party. Leading Democrats, including likely presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, far from seizing on recent pronouncements by the Bush White House as another round of duplicitous war propaganda, have accused the administration of appeasing the Iranians and promised – or, rather, threatened – to be much tougher on Tehran.

If our readers have learned anything over the months and years of perusing the news and commentary at Antiwar.com, it is that the War Party is not synonymous with the GOP. Far from it. Without the support of both “major” U.S. political parties, the cabal that lied us into war could not have gotten away with it. As I have consistently warned my readers in this space, the political and evidentiary foundations of the Iraq war were laid during the Clinton administration: U.S. foreign policy under George W. Bush is merely a continuation (albeit in somewhat extreme form) of trends that can be traced back through several administrations. Continuity, and not change, is the leitmotif of American foreign policy in the 21st century.

We are now heading toward a new election cycle, and the hopes (and illusions) of many are enjoying an inflationary surge. As in the case of economic inflation, however, they are bound to discover, sooner or later, that the whole thing is a mirage. The prospect of a Democratic sweep of the House and possibly the Senate fills some with hope that the truth about how and why we were lured into a disastrous invasion of Iraq will be brought out. I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it, however.

The reason I wouldn’t make that bet is that both parties were complicit in bringing us to where we are today, i.e., poised at the edge of the biggest strategic disaster in American military history, as Gen. William E. Odom puts it. In cases where one party is clearly to blame, the other party can of course be counted on to do an investigation that issues a few subpoenas, assigns guilt, and even gets a few officials reprimanded and disgraced, if not jailed. But once the probe gets to the point of revealing the complicity of both parties in dragging us into an unnecessary and horrifically destructive war, the will to investigate evaporates. Unless it can be shown that real crimes occurred, as in the Scooter Libby case, no one is ever going to be prosecuted for engaging in a campaign of systematic deception that ended in the deaths of many thousands.

The greatest crime of this administration, however, is worse than all this: it consists of having set us up for yet another conflict – one that promises, if it ever comes to pass, to go down in history as the opening shot of World War III, or World War IV, depending whether you take our president and/or Norman Podhoretz seriously.

It is almost unbelievable that the War Party would try again so soon to lie us into war, after having pulled the same stunt so recently. Yet that is part of the “chutzpah” strategy I outlined in an earlier column, in which they brazen it out and attribute all their own failures to their enemies. The revisionist mythology is already taking shape in the lamentations of our laptop bombardiers: We lost Iraq because we didn’t send in enough troops; politicians and political correctness led to a fatal lack of will to carry out the measures necessary for victory; and, last but not least, the traditionallyisolationist” and essentially narcissistic American public, with its well-known colossal indifference to events overseas, simply bailed out when the going got tough.

Even before the first intimations of disaster, the neoconservatives were at the ready with their rationalizations – the incompetence of the Bush administration, the “treason” of the media elite, the unwillingness of the American public to endure the sight of blood spilled for no apparently good reason, and the U.S. public’s similar inability to see the Abu Ghraib prison scandal as performance art. These neocons are really, really smart, and there’s no end to the permutations their protests of innocence could take. The Internet, in any case, is filled with their confessions, their memoirs of disillusionment, their testimony to having been deluded into worshipping The God That Failed. From Francis Fukuyama to Andrew Sullivan to Larry Diamond, the legion of disillusioned imperialists is recruiting hand over fist.

That deity, of course, is the unmatched military power of the United States government, to which they pledged allegiance and entrusted the magical transformation of Iraqi society, whose inhabitants, first of all, were supposed to have greeted our arrival with rose petals and cries of “Hosanna!” How to explain the recent spectacle of Iraqis cheering the downing of a British helicopter and the hail of stones that greeted allied rescuers? But the neocons, as we all know, are brilliant: don’t worry, they’ll think of something.

This, I think, suggests a solution to the problem of how to get all those troops we should have but didn’t send to Iraq in the first place: let’s strongly encourage these guys to sign up. They’ll be just in time to fight the next war – which is coming, I fear, sooner than even the worst pessimists imagined.

The next war will see us facing the Iranians, but not just in Iran: from Lebanon to Syria to Iraq, where pro-Iranian factions are powerful and on the ascent, the fires of the conflict will rage. The Middle East is slated to be the main battlefield of the next world war, but there is no reason to believe it won’t follow the example of previous global conflicts and spill over into Africa and the former Soviet Union – where the volatile possibilities are seemingly endless. Even Europe, where the French intifada could re-ignite momentarily, and “liberated” Kosovo, where, thanks to Bill Clinton, the Albanian Mafia rules the roost and operates the biggest open-air arms bazaar in the world, is a likely venue for future outbreaks.

The arc of crisis extends, potentially, from the heart of Europe – the former Yugoslavia, down through gangster-ruled Montenegro, into Turkey and Lebanon, sweeping over Syria and trisecting Iraq, and then driving westward into Sudan, Egypt, and further along the North African shore. Long before we launch an invasion of Iran – at the moment not even Michael Ledeen is openly suggesting it – more than a few of these proxy conflicts are far more likely to erupt.

The neocons may not be able to take out Tehran just yet, but Hezbollah will do in a pinch. And if victory in Afghanistan proves increasingly elusive, as appears to be the case, then what about a quick “victory” in Syria, where the brittle regime of Bashar al-Assad is supposedly ready to crumble at the first hint of an American invasion? I hear there’s a Syrian Chalabi waiting in the wings, and it would certainly take peoples’ minds off the bad news from Iraq.

So, you want to divert attention away from the failure of an unpopular and losing war? Easy. Just start another war. The sheer gall of such a strategy is bound to catch the opposition off guard, and by the time they recover, the shooting will have already started.

In these times, the existence of Antiwar.com, as the online newspaper of record when it comes to documenting the lies of the War Party, is absolutely essential – and that’s why it’s so important for you to give your full support to our spring fundraising drive – a drive, I might add, to stay alive. Unlike our opponents, who live off the largess afforded them by big right-wing “charitable” foundations and corporate sponsors – as well as direct contributions from the U.S. Treasury – Antiwar.com lives entirely on contributions from readers, who can access the site for free and yet voluntarily contribute to keep the site going.

It is absolutely essential that, at this critical time, we make our goal of raising $60,000. It’s not a lot, and it goes to fund an organization without frills and the usual folderol. Trust me, no one at Antiwar.com is overpaid. When it comes to salaries, our slogan is minimalist to the core: Less is more. I can personally attest to that.

I can also personally attest to the fact that the payment for working at this wonderful job is not all, or even primarily, monetary. I get letters – boy, do I get letters! The range of commentary runs the spectrum, and then some, but for the most part I sense that my readers are well-informed, well-spoken, and quite concerned with the question of what to do about the parlous state of American foreign policy. They worry about the effects of the current war and the prospect of an attack on Iran, and they wonder what action they can take to actually do something to stop it.

Look, I can’t endorse any candidates for office, and even if I could, I would tell you the same thing: electing Someone Else to fill the offices vacated by the Republican wing of the War Party isn’t going to solve our problems, including the Big Problem, and that is the domination of foreign policymaking by a self-perpetuating clique with a hidden agenda.

A lot of money – and even more hope – is going to be wasted on electoral campaigns, however well-intentioned. This would be better spent working to educate Americans about the tremendous damage our current foreign policy is doing, both to American interests and those of everyone else on earth.

I don’t mean to denigrate anyone’s sincere efforts to make a difference in this fight, but I frankly don’t see how it is possible to make any progress without first informing the electorate, and bringing them up to speed on the War Party’s crimes against truth and human decency. Yes, it is possible for a political candidate to utter inconvenient and even controversial truths about the U.S. role in world affairs, but I have yet to see it, at least in my lifetime. If we’re talking about the consistent application of the foreign policy principles enunciated by the Founders, we haven’t had such politicians since the days of Robert A. Taft. That was long enough ago to have witnessed such storied creatures as Republican members of Congress who opposed meddling in the affairs of other nations – a breed that survives in the person of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who has single-handedly and heroically held high the banner of “mind-your-own-business” Republicanism for lo these many years. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) represents a complementary anti-interventionist species of politician on the Left, one that seems similarly endangered.

Principled politicians are, in short, few and far between. Where they exist, they must be supported by an informed and active electorate, one that is all too aware of the lengths the War Party will go to smear and destroy their enemies in the political arena. And that’s where Antiwar.com comes in…

We are committed to no political party or faction. We report the news and publish commentary on world affairs, motivated by a single overriding principle: the idea that war is the enemy of human liberty. It is the great destroyer of civilization as it progresses from savagery through semi-savagery to the heights imagined by 19th-century classical liberals, who assumed that the graph of mankind’s historical development would be a straight-line progression upwards.

This illusion was shattered by the tragedy of the Great War and remained in pieces in the aftermath of World War II, as the shadow of the Cold War descended on a weary world. It was only after the sudden implosion of Communism and the end of the global conflict between the U.S. and the USSR that the old illusions returned. At the conclusion of the Cold War, it looked as if the ideological battle between liberalism (in the broadest sense) and illiberal regimes had finally been resolved in favor of the former. One neoconservative theoretician even declared the “end of history,” to near universal applause, and the prospect of a permanent peace enforced by the overwhelming firepower of the American military loomed large in the imagination of certain intellectuals and makers of government policy.

The irony is that this very dominance led to blowback – in CIA parlance, the unintended consequences of an action or policy – that may have sparked the next world war, a potential cataclysm that could lead to a worldwide downturn not only economically, but in every other area. The developing global conflict could even usher in a new dark age marked by permanent warfare and widespread destruction on a scale we can only begin to imagine.

No, human progress is not automatic or inevitable, history is not an eternal upward spiral, and knowledge, once gained, can be lost. We are, I believe, at a turning point, standing on a knife’s edge. Will we lurch, stupidly, into another catastrophic world conflict comparable to the Great War in its pointlessness as well as its horrific political consequences? At the moment, such a disastrous course is avoidable, but only barely.

That’s why it’s essential to support Antiwar.com, because we can’t keep going without you. Your contribution is 100 percent tax-deductible, and that, as far as I’m concerned, makes the case for giving airtight. After all, would you rather your hard-earned tax dollars went to pay for, say, another round of cluster bombs to be dropped on the children of Iraq, or have that money go to the most effective means of stopping such atrocities? That really is a no-brainer, now isn’t it?

This is important. So stop and take a moment to consider the many ways in which Antiwar.com has more than earned your generous contribution. And then make that contributionnow. Before the next world war breaks out…

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].