Apocalypse Now?

The Republican congressional leadership was in a panic: their covering for the Obama administration’s unconstitutional and unnecessary war in Libya was rapidly unraveling as a resolution by Rep. Dennis Kucinich calling for an end to it gained momentum – among Republicans. Kucinich’s bill gave the administration 15 days to withdraw all US forces and support from NATO’s war, which had never been authorized by Congress.

At the last minute, House Speaker John “Crybaby” Boehner cobbled together a non-binding resolution giving the President an extension of the 60 days provided by the War Powers Resolution, asking for documents detailing our political and strategic goals, and slamming the administration for not providing “a compelling rationale” for military action. The resolution passed, 268-145, with 45 Democrats crossing the aisle and voting with the Republicans. More significantly, however, the Kucinich resolution – which would have cut off appropriations for the Libyan intervention – garnered more Republican votes (87) than Democratic “ayes” (61).

What’s going on here?

As The Hill reported, “one Democrat called it ‘the sign of the apocalypse.’” And while that may be overstating the case just a bit, the vote was indeed a sign of Something Big in the making.

It was more than mere partisan opportunism, although there’s no doubt some of that was a factor: this vote represents a sea change in the way Republicans, and conservatives generally, view the conduct of US foreign policy. For the first time since the Kosovo war, a significant faction within the GOP congressional caucus is challenging our bipartisan foreign policy of global intervention – of which the Libyan war is an exemplar.

Context is everything, and the economic crisis that has gripped the nation in recent months – underscored by an unemployment rate over 9 percent and a disastrous housing market – has driven home the point anti-interventionists have been making for years: we’re “nation-building” abroad while our own country is falling to pieces. This is something that everyone – even a Republican – can readily understand, and the freshman “tea party” class of 2010 is learning very quickly the lesson their elders refused to absorb during the Bush era: we can’t afford to police the world.

As for the Democrats, it’s not only party loyalty – and the threat of political retaliation – that’s keeping them in line. Minority leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor pleading with members of her own party to stay the course:

“As I have said before, the NATO-led efforts in Libya will be strengthened by continued consultation with the Congress. The resolutions by Speaker Boehner and Congressman Kucinich, as currently drafted, do not advance our efforts in the region and send the wrong message to our NATO partners.”

Pelosi was answered by Rep. Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican whose district encompasses more military bases than any in the country:

“NATO’s feelings. NATO’s feelings. Well, how about the feelings of the American people? Isn’t it time that their feelings come first?”

That the American people overwhelmingly oppose US intervention in Libya matters not at all to the Pelosi-crats, and their Republican allies like Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), who inexplicably declared: “This war, this action in Libya, I believe sells itself.”

The reality is that the public isn’t buying this bill of goods and the Pelosi-Kinzinger alliance of knaves and fools knows it.

Kinzinger, for his part, is a gung-ho neocon who refuses to rule out sending in US ground troops and echoed the claims of the Obama administration that as many as 100,000 were about to be slaughtered by Gadhafi. This wild and unverifiable claim turned out to be yet another false alarm, just like those ever-elusiveweapons of mass destruction” that were supposed to be in Iraq: today, the UN is condemning both sides for abuses. But that’s too subtle for the square-jawed ex-Special Ops “military stud” who seems to be all brawn and little brain.

As the crisis of the empire reaches the boiling point, and the US slips ever further into financial and moral insolvency – as the very structure of our overseas network of garrisoned protectorates and military bases begins to crack and sink – the lines are being drawn on the home front, and the War Party is taking on a whole new political coloration.

To the Pelosi-crats, war is just another Keynesian “stimulus” program, and, as war supporter Rep. Jim Moran stupidly put it during the House floor debate, a way to assert ourselves as “the moral superpower.” Just how “moral” these liberal warmongers are was dramatized quite vividly on ABC’s “This Week,” this past Sunday, where “progressive” economist Paul Krugman, the Keynesian point man who thinks government can spend us out of an economic depression, declared a new war that would solve the nation’s looming economic problems:

“If we suddenly had a military build up and the threat of war, you’d be surprised how fast the economy would recover.”

He added, parenthetically, that this would be the “wrong” way to stimulate, as opposed to the “right” way – i.e. having the Fed print up a few trillion more increasingly worthless dollars – but this caveat is just rhetorical window dressing. In spite of Rep. Moran’s ridiculous preening over America “the moral superpower,” how many actually believe Washington wouldn’t turn to war as a way of “solving” our economic crisis?

The idea that war is good for the economy is nonsense, of course, and yet it is a view held close to the hearts of “progressive” Keynesians everywhere, who believe any and all government spending is good in and of itself. It doesn’t matter what we spend it on: in theory, we could dump dollars out of airplanes in the skies over Tripoli and still get the same “beneficial” economic “stimulus.” Has a loonier economic “theory” ever been proposed, let alone put into practice? And yet that is precisely the view taken by this administration and its clueless supporters in Congress and among the pundit-ocracy.

State capitalism, or corporate socialism, cannot sustain itself [.pdf]: it needs the constant pump-priming of the Federal Reserve to maintain the kind of mindless momentum required to keep the economy in motion. Eventually, this course will take us to the dead end of a worthless dollar and slavery to the banks – to whom we’ll be paying interest on borrowed money unto eternity. In the short term, however, the politicians and interest groups that profit from Big Government will maintain their power, perks, and privileges – and the short term is all they know or care about. So their battle cry is: keep those government printing presses rolling! Keep “stimulating” the corpse of the economy, so that it assumes the illusion of life – and get ready to create a lot more human corpses, if necessary, because war is a “stimulant.”

Well, yes, it’s a stimulant for the human ghouls who pose as “humanitarians,” for a president who lacks national security credibility, and for a party still trying to shed its image as being insufficiently warlike. In the real world, however, war is a destroyer: unlike peaceful capitalist investment, its end product is death and destruction, not capital goods. Only in the warped mind of an ideologically-driven “economist” is the mass murder of innocents anything but a crime.

New lines are being drawn: on one side we have those who see government as the end-all and be-all of human existence, the savior and source of economic vitality, the motive-power of a nation. On the other side, we have a growing movement of those who challenge this premise, and see government as the Great Destroyer and enemy of freedom and prosperity. The former are bound to ally themselves with the War Party, which, after all, worships the State, while the latter – whether they realize it or not – are the War Party’s deadliest enemies.

This is why neocons like David Frum have taken to excoriating the “tea party” for wanting to cut government too much, too fast – because they know it presents an insuperable obstacle to their war plans. You can’t have an American empire without Big Government: you can’t have a far-flung network of overseas bases and client states without nearly unlimited funding to pay for it all. That’s why Frum disdains all attempts by the Tea Partiers to cut the size and scope of government, and why the Republican Establishment stands in mortal fear of the insurgency that threatens to take over the GOP.

The crisis of empire is the crisis of an America overextended on every front – and that includes the foreign policy front, as many Republicans and conservatives are now recognizing. The apocalypse the Establishment of both parties fears is upon us – and let us pray it comes swiftly and mercilessly.

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].