Justin is recuperating from cancer treatment and under the weather for the next few days. However, we are able to offer some of his “best of” words here – the following columns are remarkably prescient, and, indeed, might have been written – why – yesterday! We at Antiwar.com have been monitoring the world and reporting since before 9/11/ 2001 – since before some of our readers were even born! So, here, we invite you to take a scary ride on the Justin Raimondo Way-Back Machine.
This morning’s [March 27, 2001] New York Times has yet another story about the developing split within the Bush administration over foreign policy, with the partisans of Donald Rumsfeld, unreconstructed cold warrior, versus Colin Powell’s (relatively) noninterventionist State Department. As is usual with the arbiter of the conventional wisdom, the Times defined the two camps in terms of “ideological conservatives” versus “moderates,” with the former allied with Rumsfeld and the latter partial to Powell. But in the post-cold war world, these categories make no sense at all: with the Soviet Union a fading nightmare, and America’s status as the last superpower left standing, the cold war paradigm simply does not apply. There is nothing inherently “conservative” in a policy of perpetual war for perpetual peace: indeed, it seems like the sort of wild-eyed radicalism that energized the Napoleonic foreign policy of the French Revolution – the very antithesis of conservatism – and hardly a force for stability and the preservation of traditional values. But the Times has a natural predilection for mischaracterizing conservatives, for reasons too obvious to state, and, in any case, the right is very divided on foreign policy. Some, like Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, his neoconservative Svengali, seek to impose an American hegemony on the world, or most of it, and take great pride in a stubborn unilaterialism – even if it means a probable failure to reach their ostensible objectives (containing Saddam Hussein, avoiding all-out war in the Balkans, reducing the threat of a nuclear war, etc.). These ideologues are usually tagged with the term “neoconservative” as if to acknowledge, at least on some level, that this dogma of radical interventionism represents a revision – I would contend a complete reversal – of the original. But, as much as they would like to believe it, the neocons are not the whole show.
A DISSENTING MAJORITY
Others on the right have dissented from this would-be orthodoxy. The collapse of communism, the end of the cold war, and the troubling rise of threatening trends on the home front have all soured grassroots conservatives on the alleged necessity for the US to intervene on a global scale. Pat Buchanan’s critique of Western hubris has garnered considerable support on the right, even if his recent race for the White House did not, as conservatives wake up to the startling and darkly disturbing insight that the enemy is not in any foreign capital, but right here at home. These rightists, faced with the choice of bombing either Baghdad or Washington D.C., would more than likely choose the latter. Llewellyn H. Rockwell, the president of the Mises Institute; Donald J. Devine and David Keene, of the American Conservative Union; and of course the indefatigable scholars over at the Cato Institute, that bastion of libertarianism in the Beltway – all have proffered important critiques of the cold warrior-neoconservative stance, and their views more faithfully reflect the opinions of grassroots activists than the Beltway conservative ‘generals’ intent on re-fighting the cold war.
‘WORLD HEGEMONY’ OR BUST
The Kosovo war was a watershed for many grassroots conservatives: for the first time they began to see the actions of their government as not merely mistaken, but evil. They also began to see, with a new clarity, the domestic uses of our interventionist foreign policy, as Clinton bombed an aspirin factory in the Sudan to get Monica off the front pages. This revulsion at the policies of the most interventionist President since Teddy Roosevelt began to translate, after a while, into a broad criticism of interventionism in general. As Devine and Keene put it in their trenchant critique of Robert Kagan, a top neoconservative foreign policy theorist::
“It is significant, however, that the Kagan areas of concern are mostly the same ones identified by Bill Clinton as important. For, although he disagrees with the President’s handling of foreign policy, Mr. Kagan tends to accept Clinton’s priorities rather than those of the GOP’s presidential nominee and the majority of Republicans in Congress. In fact, Kagan and Clinton both call them ‘isolationists.’ His advice to Bush was to separate himself from his fellow Republicans by adopting an even more interventionist and internationalist stance than Clinton or Gore. What Kagan seeks is a Republican president who would be even more willing than Clinton or Gore to use U.S. power to enforce a de facto American hegemony and a set of internationalist or universal values. Mr. Kagan and his associate Bill Kristol, in fact, specifically endorse what they call a ‘benevolent American hegemony‘ to police the world. Apparently, they have not found their man with George Bush.”
But this vigorous dissent is, naturally enough, ignored by the Times, which is not attuned to the subtleties of conservative thought. In any case, we are informed that the interventionist conservatives are gearing up for a battle royale with the Powelllians:
“Although the administration is still in its relatively early days, there is evidence that the disputes are unlikely to be kept quiet, in part because of the strong ideological undercurrents. Word has gone out to conservative writers and think tanks from administration hard-liners to ‘keep up the pressure,’ a think tank policy analyst said.”
A MAJORITY – SILENT NO MORE!
As the Neocon High Command over at the War Party revs up the motors of its propaganda machine, painting Russia, China, Serbia, and the Arab world – indeed, much of the rest of the entire world – as our implacable enemies, allow me to rev up my own motors on behalf of the conservative silent majority, which is more concerned with the evil emanating out of Hollywood than with any baleful influences flowing in from abroad. If the warmongers, and various shills for the armaments industry, are going to ratchet up the pressure on this yet-unformed administration, then grassroots conservatives (most of whom supported George W. Bush), need to do some lobbying too. As the neocons build their grandiose architectures of global entanglement, and redraw the map of the world to implement their idea of “benevolence” – a conceit that seems utterly sinister – it is time for us “isolationists” (i.e. proponents of the traditional American foreign policy of trade with all, entanglements with none) to proffer our own platform, and to “keep up the pressure” on the Bush administration, which, after all, promised us a foreign policy based on “humility.” Of course, in the case of traditionalist conservatives, there are no grand architectures to construct, no overarching theories to rationalize the perpetual expenditure of troops and treasure: only a blueprint for undoing all the harm that has been done by the reckless misuse of American power, and returning to the real source of our problems: the political and cultural morass that threatens to defeat us on the home front. Herewith, a platform for conservative noninterventionists who hope to influence the direction of a seemingly directionless administration, broken down by region:
A PLATFORM THAT PUTS AMERICA FIRST
NATO Expansion as the Expression of American Hubris
Europe – The idea that our great enemy on this front is Russia is a shibboleth that should have imploded when the Berlin Wall fell. Yet we are treating the Russians as if nothing had changed since the days of Leonid Brezhnev. NATO expansion is a provocation and one not justified by post-cold war events. Indeed, now that the threat of expansionist Communism has passed into history, the pacts and security infrastructure built up over the past fifty years have become largely obsolescent. Not only that, but they have become a burden on the overextended and overtaxed US, and threaten to unsettle our relations with the Europeans, increasingly intent on building their own regional security arrangements. Indeed, by insisting on American hegemony in Europe, we create a reaction that leads to the exact opposite of its intended result: the consolidation of an anti-American nexus on the European continent, and the rise of the European Union as a challenge to the American “hyperpower.”
The Balkans – Get US out! The Kosovo war was easily the single most heinous of Bill Clinton’s many criminal acts – and that is saying a lot. We attacked a sovereign nation that had never attacked us, in the name of a cause that turned out to have been a fraud. The Albanians, far from being the victims of the Balkan tragedy, have all along been the victimizers, as dramatically demonstrated by their rampage through Macedonia and their now open crusade to establish a “Greater Albania.” In prosecuting his war against the former Yugoslavia, Bill Clinton unleashed a force of almost demonic malevolence in the Balkans. As in medicine, so in foreign policy: the first principle must be “do no harm.” The harm done by the Clintonistas in the Balkans is almost incalculable. The thousands killed by NATO warplanes will not be resurrected, and the KLA genie cannot be put back in the bottle. In making good on his pledge – presaged and subsequently echoed by national security advisor Condolezza Rice – to get us out of the Balkans, and let the Europeans deal with it, the President must make an effort to undo the harm that has been done. This means arresting the KLA leaders responsible for the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, as well as the vicious and unprovoked attack on Macedonia, locking them up, and throwing away the key – or giving it to the Yugoslavs (still, according to us, the legal authority in Kosovo) to throw it away. It means forcibly disbanding the KLA camps, whose recruits are equipped, trained, housed, and fed at US taxpayers’ expense, and cutting off all future aid. Withdrawal not only from Kosovo, but also from Bosnia, and Macedonia – where US troops are inviting targets for Albanian or Islamic fundamentalist terrorists – must be the first phase of a general withdrawal of US troops from the European continent. We are neither needed, nor are we wanted – except by those financial and corporate interests that thrive on government contracts and profit from the arms buildup mandated by NATO expansion.
The Euro-federalist Threat
The European Union – The hysteria generated by Russian spy scares has diverted the attention of policymakers from the one real threat to US interests in Europe: the rise of the European Union (EU). While the Marxist-Leninist project failed in the former Soviet Union, the cause of international socialism is not completely lost as European leftists raise the banner of a United Socialist States of Europe to challenge the American hegemon. This resentment of America, to be found on the European right as well as the left, is a direct consequence of our insistence on preserving the fiction of US domination of Europe – a conceit that could ironically backfire in the creation of a credible and potentially dangerous superpower rival. The EU is a danger not only militarily, but also economically: the consolidation of a continental trade bloc on the other side of the Atlantic represents more of a mortal threat to our interests than all the nuclear weapons in Russia’s arsenal.
Small is Good
The Sovereignty of Small Nations – President Vojislav Kostunica of the former Yugoslavia admonished the small nations of Europe that they are far too willing to surrender their sovereignty to “supranational” organizations, whether it be NATO, the EU, the OSCE, or some future European super-state, and he raised the banner of Europe’s mini-states as a necessary and beneficial aspect of a continental civilization. US policy should encourage this trend toward European decentralism, recognizing that the present borders of Europe have been defined by centuries of warfare and injustice, and are therefore mutable. Why shouldn’t the Basques have their own country – and who are we to take a position against it? The central government in Rome has long oppressed the historically independent Italian city-states, and if the northern Italians want to set up what they call “Padania” – again, who are we to say they can’t? We supposedly fought a war to “protect” the Albanian Kosovars against the alleged oppression imposed by Belgrade – and yet, to this day, we insist that Kosovo must continue (at least formally) to be considered a Yugoslavian province (while actually it is an American protectorate). Switzerland, the most peaceful and prosperous of European nations, has consistently maintained its policy of nonintervention and aloofness from supranational entanglements, jealously guarding its sovereignty and integrity as assets not to be squandered. This is our idea of a nation with the ideal foreign policy: it makes for a good trading partner, and a good friend. If only the US were one giant Switzerland, where peace and prosperity reigned supreme, the world would be a lot better off.
America and Asia: The Teasing the Dragon
Asia – Here is the one area where the legacy of the Clinton years is ambiguous. Clinton declared that China was our “strategic partner,” and his administration never escaped the taint of having accepted large bribes from Chinese officials and their business cohorts, who were then able to influence US policy. On the other hand, the Clinton administration generally followed the parameters of our internationalist foreign policy as set in stone for the past half century. The “forward stance” of the US in Asia has been a given in our foreign policy calculations for as long as the cold war lasted. The troops sent to occupy Japan stayed to guard their conquest from the encroachments of Russia. But unlike the European aspect of our globalist policy, the Eastasian infrastructure of the cold war has remained not only intact but also largely unchallenged. The same conservatives who decried the Kosovo war have a tendency to apply a different standard where Eastasia is concerned. But here, too, our policy must undergo a radical transformation in view of the cold war’s end.
China – US policy toward the world’s most populous nation is alternately expressed in terms of fear, or fawning: we are either kowtowing to Beijing, or demonizing them. Both mindsets prevent us from seeing the truth, and therefore determining and defending our legitimate interests in the region. The main problem with America’s policy is that it is completely a-historical, and fails to take into account the legitimate grievances of Chinese nationalism. Such sentiments are invariably labeled “xenophobia,” and depicted in threatening terms, as if a Chinese campaign against “foreign devils” might blossom into a holy war against the West.
A History of ‘Foreign Devils’ – Such a war, however, can only come about if we ignore the modern history of China as a nation beset by foreign invaders, interlopers whose behavior might justly be described as devilish. The British maintained the opium trade in China, and fattened their coffers at the expense of the suffering of the Chinese people. Western intervention, again and again, sought to thwart the will of native Chinese, who resented and fought against the “humanitarian” interventionists of yesteryear. The British, and others, sought to “take up the white man’s burden” and “civilize” a civilization that predated Europe’s.
Taiwan: Staying Out of It – US intervention in Chinese affairs can only have the opposite of its intended effect: we have no more right to decide whether Taiwan is or is not a province of China than we have to decide whether Kosovo is properly a part of Yugoslavia. The only way to defuse China-Taiwan relations is to stay well out of what both sides aver is strictly an internal matter.
China and the Boomerang Effect – While China does not yet pose a military threat to the US, or its just interests in the region, if it becomes so it will be in large part thanks to US policy, which seems designed to strengthen the hand of a regime that would otherwise be weakening. It is in the interests of the Chinese Communist regime to maintain a certain level of tension with the US and other “foreign devils.” Having given up the moribund Marxist-Leninism of Mao’s day in favor of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” (i.e. authoritarian nationalism), China’s rulers play the nationalist card to keep domestic dissenters from gaining widespread support. Every time we ratchet up the rhetoric against China, as secretary Rumsfeld recently did by naming China as our “number one enemy,” it is music to the regime’s ears because it legitimizes them in the eyes of their subjects. For if the US is declaring that China is their foremost enemy, then the Americans must be jealous of China’s rise into the pantheon of great powers, resentful of all things Chinese, and implacably committed to the destruction of the Chinese people – and, naturally, only the Chinese Communist Party can protect the people from such an ignominious fate. At a time when the failure of Marxism, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, presages a similar fate for the gerontocrats who rule the roost in Beijing, American intervention and the threat of it is the last shred of the regime’s legitimacy. Stripped of this, the central government in Beijing – buffeted by global market forces, and faced with the lack of a unifying enemy – would quickly lose authority, and the breakup of the old Chinese empire would proceed on schedule, mirroring a process already well-advanced in its Russian neighbor. Our Sinophobic policy, then, has a boomerang effect, strengthening rather than discrediting an already fragile regime.
The Endless Occupation: 60 Years is Long Enough
Japan – Why does the military occupation of Japan continue some 60 years after the end of World War II? The US presence in Japan is a monument to the natural immortality of the old infrastructure: once put in place, in tends to remain long past the time when it serves any rational purpose. The US occupation was originally intended to prevent the return of Japanese militarism: yet, Japan, today, represents a threat to no one. During the cold war, the rationale for the occupation changed somewhat: US troops were supposed to be protecting Japan from the Soviet threat. That threat no longer exists. What, then, is the new rationale? US (and Japanese) policymakers have yet to come up with one. US bases in Japan are constant sources of friction between the Japanese people and the US government, with frequent incidents of an intolerable nature – a series of events that, if they occurred on American soil, would provoke a justifiably white-hot outrage. Japan is more than capable of defending itself: that is, if it is allowed to. In the case of Japan, more than any other example of our outmoded and outrageously expensive foreign policy, it is time to bring our troops home.
Divided They Fall
The Two Koreas – A close runner-up to Japan as the clearest case for US withdrawal is the Korean peninsula, where both sides of the divide have recently begun serious negotiations aimed at reunification. With the North Koreans on the verge of collapse, and the South Koreans eager to promote the success of their “Sunshine” policy of opening up the North, the idea that the US must interpose its will to stop the process is arrogance at its most overweening. Yet that is precisely what the Bush administration has proceeded to do, with prodding from defense secretary Rumsfeld and the neoconservative faction of the administration. Without its cold war allies, North Korean communism will wither on the vine, and naturally seek to avert a human catastrophe – massive starvation and the breakdown of North Korean society – by merging with the democratic South. What both Koreas are inching toward is a relatively painless reunification. The alternative would be for North Korea to align itself ever more closely with Beijing, give up Kim Il Sung’s old doctrine of juche (self-reliance) and become a virtual satrap of China. President Bush recently called for the withdrawal of North Korean troops away from the border – a matter traditionally handled by the South Korean government. North Korea is now threatening to cancel all negotiations, and to restart its rocket testing program. The presence of US troops on South Korean soil is widely resented in Korea: they didn’t call it the “Hermit Kingdom” for nothing. While this sort of “xenophobia” may be politically incorrect in Washington. DC, it is a fact on the ground in the two Koreas, and the sooner we realize it the faster we will allow the reunification process to go forward.
America Come Home (Part II)
Originally Posted March 30, 2001
In my last column, I presented the first part of a proposed “Platform” for noninterventionist conservatives, a statement of principle and policy broken down along geographical lines. Part I dealt with Europe and Eastasia; what follows are sections covering the Middle East, the Americas, and the status of America’s colonial possessions. A Time for Truth
The Middle East – US foreign policy in the Middle East has been based on two pillars that are fast crumbling: military support for the medieval monarchies of the oil-rich Arabian peninsula and unconditional support for the democratic legitimacy of the Israeli state. Both these certitudes are up for reexamination.
Israel – The US relationship to Israel has distorted our regional policy by subordinating every other factor to Israeli interests. This must end, for two reasons: a) It is unjust, since no people, in this case the Palestinians, should be treated as helots, and ethnically cleansed from their own lands, and b) It is not in our national interest, no matter how one defines it, to earn the undying enmity of the Arab world, in defiance of all reason and morality. The US sends more aid to Israel than to any other country, and yet seems to have almost no leverage; not only that, but Israel regularly spies on the US, as the case of Jonathan Pollard made all too clear – as if we were enemies! Aid to Israel subsidizes Israeli economic inefficiencies, and actually endangers the Israeli economy: it also creates resentment, in Israel and the US, and poisons relations between the two countries. It should be phased out with relative swiftness.
While the tendency of the Bush administration to bow out of the role of Middle East mediator is supposed to represent a new aloofness toward the ongoing crisis, in reality it represents an effusive endorsement of the new hardline Israeli government of Ariel Sharon and the expansionist wing of the Likud party. Just as Albanian fanatics are building a “Greater Albania” in the Balkans, so extremists on the Israeli right envision a “Greater Israel” that stretches from the Nile to the Euphrates. For a long time, no one listened to them as they advocated expulsion of the Arabs from Israel proper, and a war of conquest to “defend” the Israeli state: now they are in power. The danger to the peace of the region has never been greater – and, tragically, the blanket US endorsement of Israeli policy has never been more unequivocal. US aid to Israel must be conditioned on a recognition that Palestinians, after all, are human beings too, and that no government has the right to single out disfavored religious or ethnic groups for dispossession and persecution – especially not with US tax dollars. Instead of withdrawing from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the US needs to re-engage on different terms: that is, it needs to frame the problem in terms of what is in America’s national
1001 Arabian Princes
The Arabian peninsula – We went to war to preserve the dynasty of a Kuwaiti emir: the absolute ruler of a country where women cannot vote, and expressions of Christian faith are barely legal. The idea that we are the guarantors of the House of Saud, one of the most brutal and repressive regimes on earth, stands in stark contradiction to the conceits of our global hegemonists, who see the US as the world champion of capital-‘D’ Democracy. The Saudi monarchy, the mini-monarchies that line the tip of the Arabian peninsula, the Egyptian “democracy” that outlaws the Islamic opposition, the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, and especially the authoritarian Turkish “democracy” ruled by the “Two No’s” (no Kurds, and no Muslims) that is the linchpin of US strategic doctrine in the region – all these regimes are faced with a rising spirit of pan-Arabic nationalism such as first swept the region in the wake of decolonization. The religious and nationalist tides that are sweeping the old regimes from power will not be held back no matter how much money we pour into local coffers: the Arab sheiks, emirs, and princelings will all go the way of the Shah of Iran, the late and unlamented Reza Pahlavi, and the new rulers will be in possession of the finest military equipment courtesy of US arms manufacturers. As in other areas of the world, on the Arabian peninsula and throughout the Middle East, US policies are generating a reaction: a virulent anti-Americanism that manifests itself, today, in the form of terrorism – and may take on an even more extensive character in the future. This crumbling pillar of US policy in the region is a danger to all those who are in the vicinity: we need to get out from under it, before it crushes American interests. This means ending aid to any state that engages in cartel-like price-fixing of basic commodities: we are protecting and subsidizing our own blackmailers. The next time Saddam threatens Kuwait, and the Emir comes knocking at our door, demanding protection, perhaps the best answer would be a brief note reminding him of his country’s vote to keep OPEC prices higher.
War and Big Oil
Iraq – US policy toward Iraq is a shameful and difficult issue for any American to face: no one wants to believe that their own government is guilty of war crimes. But the death of 5,000 children per month as a direct result of UN-imposed sanctions is a war crime if ever there was one. The daily bombing of Iraq continues, a full decade after George Herbert Walker Bush announced that he was not just going to war against Iraq for invading Kuwait, but because we had to fight for something he called “a new world order.” The policy of internationalism has rarely been so baldly stated. This was a war clearly fought to preserve the overseas assets of American and British corporate interests: the oil companies that benefited from skyrocketing oil prices due to war and the constant threat of war in the region. For a solid decade, US government policy was to keep Iraqi oil off the market – after having started the war ostensibly because Saddam was going to conquer not only Kuwait but also Saudi Arabia, and cut off the West from a major source of oil. Instead of establishing a “new world order,” the Gulf war in retrospect seems to have been fought for a new world oil price – one significantly higher than it would have been had the US not intervened.
Clinton-Bush policy a failure
The present administration is firmly committed to the same policies: Bill Clinton pummeled Iraq with bombs, and even appropriated money to finance dubious “revolutionary” groups to overthrow the Baghdad regime: The Bush-Rumsfeld policy is merely a continuation of the same policy, in spite of secretary of state Colin Powell’s attempt to moderate US hostility. Ironically, the real potential danger to US interests in the region is being generated by US policy – a widespread resentment, even hatred, of the US translates into dire consequences for the future if present trends escalate.
The Iranian Factor
The focus on Iraq has neglected the very real danger posed by Iraq’s archenemy, Iran, a country whose official ideology (unlike Saddam’s secular Baathist socialism) really does have widespread regional appeal. As a consequence of our Iraqi-phobic policy, it was only natural for the US to promote a rapprochement with our old enemy, Iran. The Clinton administration pursued this policy relentlessly, going so far as to openly back Iranian “moderates” – you know, the ones who only want to stone heretics and other impure elements to death, instead of holding televised beheadings. Now the Iranians have turned on us, and sought an alliance with the Russians, while the US is left high and dry. As long as the Bush administration carries out the failed policies of the past eight years – in Iraq, a policy that might be termed “demonize and pulverize; alternately demonizing Saddam and pulverizing his suffering subjects – the judgment of history, when it comes to our policy in the region, is likely to be harsh.
The natural economic and political interests of the US are hemispheric, and the peoples of the Americas have certain values and concerns in common. One is an aversion to foreign intervention and colonial domination, and another is a common heritage of revolutionary struggle against a European occupier. But history also reveals an ambiguous relationship between north and south, with the former often intervening in the affairs of the latter much as the Spaniards once dominated and plundered the region. This history of commonality and conflict colors our relations with nations south of the border, and nothing really exemplifies this better than our sorely troubled relationship with Mexico.
The bleeding border – The biggest threat to US national security is not to be found in the Middle East, or Russia, or China, but along our extensive and volatile border with Mexico. A condition of low-level warfare has existed all along the Rio Grande for years, and the flow of illegal immigration pouring over that porous border is greatly facilitated by the Mexican government, which is more than happy to be rid of its excess population. The border states have been literally overrun with illegal immigrants, and the boundary between the two countries is, today, essentially a fiction – one which newly-elected President Vicente Fox would like to erase. This represents a threat to the sovereignty of the US – especially now that Mexico is offering American residents the option of exercising dual citizenship.
Colombia: The Next Vietnam? – The “drug war” now being conducted in Colombia, and first presented by the Clinton administration under the rubric of “Plan Colombia,” has been renamed (the ‘Andean Initiative’) and relaunched – with no more prospect of success than the original. What we are faced with in Colombia is a three-sided civil war that is much more than a simple black-and-white struggle between the Colombian government and the “drug lords.” No amount of aid, either economic or military, can win a war against a hundred years of ignorance, grinding poverty, and the kind of desperation Americans cannot even imagine. The Colombian civil war has been going on virtually since that nation’s inception, long before the drug culture infected Colombian society: the drug business has merely exacerbated it, and drawn the attention of the regional hegemon. A “drug war” in Colombia is a futile crusade, one that will eventually drag in US troops as “advisors,” and then combatants, and, finally, as casualties. Here’s another quagmire that we ought to be out of.
Cuba after Castro – The survival of Cuban communism is due almost entirely to the policies that harden the hearts of the people against the obvious advantages of liberty. Castro’s legitimacy and that of his regime is derived almost entirely from his successful standoff against the Americans, who have been trying to kill him for what seems like the past hundred years. If Communist party rule survives Fidel’s death, it will be because the US refuses to let Cuba itself weave the bonds that would otherwise bind the tiny island to the mainland with countless threads of economic, familial, and emotional ties. Here, once again, we see the boomerang effect of US foreign policy in full operation: the seeming anomaly of US policy achieving the exact opposite of its ostensible objective.
Puerto Rico Libre – The American empire has never been about outright conquest or so we are told, and that is true in the modern version, where the procedure is to set up protectorates, usually under some properly internationalized rubric, such as NATO or the UN. But we still retain the remnants of the colonial empire we began to acquire around the turn of the century, and while Cuba escaped colonial status, along with the Philippines (although not without a long and bloody struggle in the case of the latter), Puerto Rico was diverted into America’s imperial orbit. Neither a state, nor exactly a colonial possession, Puerto Rico is in a legal and political limbo. It is high time to resolve its status, and either admit it as a state, or else wish Puerto Rico godspeed and grant the island its independence. Most of the opposition to this solution to Puerto Rico’s continuing status as a political and economic dependency comes from within Puerto Rico itself, and from the Democratic Party in the US, which hopes to herd Puerto Rican voters to the polls in defense of generous welfare benefits and other subsidies. But why limit the choice of a colonial overlord to a single country, namely the US? If it’s dependency they want, then why not apply for admission to once again become a province of Spain? They, after all, have a socialist government, one that will no doubt be more than glad to extend the benefits of their system to their former subjects. As for American Samoa, and all the rest of our island territories in the Pacific: as our “forward stance” in the Pacific becomes a thing of the past, the dismantling of a network of military bases that has turned the Pacific into an American lake will put an end to the dangerous overextension of American power.
Foreign policy and the Constitution
The Legacy of Empire – The words of the conservative writer Garet Garrett ring down through the years, prescient and more relevant than when they were published in 1950: “Between government in the republican meaning, that is, Constitutional, representative, limited government, on the one hand, and Empire on the other hand, there is mortal enmity. Either one must forbid the other or one will destroy the other. That we know. Yet never has the choice been put to a vote of the people.” This is the essential insight that stands at the heart of conservative opposition to interventionism and globalism: that we cannot station our centurions from Okinawa to Oman, subsidize our satraps and satisfy the transnational corporate entities that build the physical infrastructure of Empire, and yet still remain faithful to the conservative idea that government power must be severely limited. A power that girdles the globe, and polices the planet – one that wages war on a perpetual basis, all in the name of “peace” – must necessarily burst forth from its constitutional constraints. Indeed, such a power can know no constraints, and is inherently dangerous – especially to those who wield it. They will, in the end, find themselves transformed: once the citizens of a relatively young and eternally vital republic, Americans will wake up one day to find themselves the subjects of a worldwide imperium, hailing the next Caesar as he returns home in triumph at the head of his centurions, and forgetting that their forefathers rose in rebellion against a British king. The temptation of Empire is fatal to any republic that falls for its lure.
Peace versus the two-party system
Reformulating US foreign policy – The foreign policy issue never came to the fore in the last presidential campaign, because the two “major” candidates agreed in principle, if not in every particular, all rhetoric aside. What is clear is that the Republicans found it necessary to reassure the growing numbers of their noninterventionist wing that Bush, if elected, would ratchet down American hyperactivity on the foreign policy front. Instead, what has happened is that most of the same old policies – endless meddling, mostly on behalf of US corporate and domestic political interests – remain in place. US foreign policy in the post-cold war era requires a bottom-up, top-down, all-around review, from basic premises to specific policy objectives – and what is clear, even at this early stage of the Bush administration, is that the Republicans are no more capable of this than were the Democrats. This task awaits the emergence of new leadership – one that is more than likely to arise completely outside the old politics, as part of a more general reform movement that topples the two-party monopoly.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.
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