‘May You Live In Interesting Times’

As you go into your weekend, leaving the cares of work and other sources of stress behind you, I’ve harvested a few nuggets of wisdom to chew on now that we all have a moment to ourselves. First off, here’s John J. Mearsheimer, co-author, with Stephen Walt, of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, interviewed by Macclean‘s magazine:

“Imagine a situation with a Palestinian state where there’s now the state of Israel. Instead of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, you have Jews living in the Occupied Territories, with the Palestinian state taking land away from the Jews, treating them in brutal ways and denying them a state of their own. There would be a huge outcry in the West, especially in the United States and Canada. We would go to enormous lengths to put pressure on the Palestinian state to stop exploiting and brutalizing the Jews, and to allow them to have a state of their own. But here we have a situation where the roles are reversed, and the United States and Canada support Israel.”

When it comes to the subject of Israel, a strange double-standard is applied by policymakers and pundits alike. Another example: If the citizens of any other country harassed and assaulted an American envoy – as happened in Hebron, Israel, the other day – you can bet we’d all have heard about it by now, from irate American officials and the news media. In this case, not a word.

Instead, we hear calls from the War Party to invade yet another hapless country that is no threat to us or our interests – Burma. Or Myanmar, as they call it nowadays, no doubt for some politically correct reason. Time magazine opines: “As the response to the 2004 tsunami proved, the world’s capacity for mercy is limitless. But we still haven’t figured out when to give war a chance.”

So many in the West are all too eager to give war a chance: peace, on the other hand, rarely seems an option. These Johnny-one-notes are stuck in the groove of American supremacism, a sense of hubris that may seem old-fashioned before long, as the economy slides from a recession into something rather more serious and prolonged.

In any case, Lisa Schiffren, writing in National Review, chimes in with a few helpful suggestions:

“Let’s rule out the possibility that this is Time Magazine‘s idea of a parody of a conservative magazine editorial, or that P.J. O’Rourke wrote it. For one thing, unilateral air drops are a good idea to start with. For another, this would be an excellent moment for the CIA to begin co-ordinating the internal dissidents and rebels on the Thai-Burmese border who would like to overthrow the junta. (Oh, no one’s organized that? Pity, because when a million people lie dead for entirely preventable reasons, governments should fall without much help.) And perhaps the Time writer could press his colleagues on the political beat to ask Senators McCain and Obama what they think about it. And what they would do, if they were in the catbird seat right now.”

Yes, that’s just what the Burmese need right now: a man-made disaster, like a bloody civil war, to complement the natural disaster that has befallen them. Good thinking, Lisa!

Oh, but I do agree on one count: by all means let’s as the putative presidential nominees of both “major” parties what they think of this wonderful idea. I’ll bet Obama will glom on to it, if ever so cautiously.

We may have to turn to a so-called “minor” party candidate for common sense talk on this issue. Here‘s Bob Barr, writing in the online version of National Review, critiquing Obama’s foreign policy:

“The difference, I suppose, more than anything else, between my view of how to extricate the United States from Iraq specifically and these sorts of adventures in the first place is that I don’t think Sen. Obama has really a credible consistency in the fundamental notion that we should not occupy and build foreign nations. When one looks, for example, at the full scope of his statements and positions on these issues, one is struck not so much by the fact that he would not engage and not use U.S. military and economic might to build nations, but he simply disagrees with doing it in Iraq. I think we ought to have a consistent policy of a more defense-oriented national-defense policy and one that does not engage in nation-building whether it’s in the Middle East, in Africa or in the Balkans.”

Barr, who seems likely to get the nomination of the Libertarian Party, is in a good position to grab a significant chunk of voters away from McCain, especially those who disagree with or are tiring of the war, and who take the Rush Limbaugh line on McCain’s inherent unsuitability. Of course, he could also draw in all those Obama-cons who reportedly crossed over and voted for their guy in open primary states: Moveon.org is even doing a special television ad appealing to this constituency. I think, in the end, however, that Barr could very well cost the GOP the election, if it’s close, a result that would suit many “movement” conservatives, like Richard Viguerie – who’s backing Barr – just fine. All the better for their fundraising ….

Yet it isn’t just that conservatives want to get on board the Ron Paul Revolution so they can milk that golden calf – there are real ideological differences that have developed, certainly in Barr’s case, and no doubt in Viguerie’s. The latter is an old-fashioned limited-government conservative, and that’s just what McCainiacs like Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol aren’t.

Why, just the other day, whilst bloviating on Fox News, the neocon grand strategist opined that McCain ought to advocate a “domestic surge” to complement the surge he so earnestly supports in Iraq: a “surge,” that is, of government programs and spending to implement the grandiose dreams of “national greatness conservatism” advanced in the pages of the Standard.

Of course, those conservatives who remember what they used to believe are horrified, not only by McCain, but by the neocons and what they have wrought – the de facto destruction of the GOP. The Barr insurgency could cripple the McCain campaign, and pave the way for the success of the Ron Paul Republicans, who are working assiduously – and more than a little stubbornly – inside the Republican party apparatus.

The signs of rebellion are all around us. As the crisis of the American empire metastasizes, both right and left rise up in revolt. We live in “interesting times,” as the old Chinese proverb puts it – or is that an old Chinese curse? In any case, whatever the future holds, we can be sure of one thing: it won’t be boring …

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was 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].