- Defending by annihilating
- Roots, Limits, Love
- Varieties of Conservative Experience
- I’ll never fuse with this kind of Conservative
- What’s Worship for II?
- How to figure out whose Ferrari that is
[I]s it not time to put al-Qaeda in perspective and consider whether our Mideast policy is creating more terrorists than we are killing?
But by having fought a “war on terror” overseas in [Lindsey] Graham’s way — invading, occupying, nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq — we lost 6,000 soldiers and brought back 40,000 wounded Americans.
Were the wars in which we suffered such casualties, and that cost us $2 trillion and counting, really worth it? Did they make us more secure?
Ten years ago, anti-interventionists warned that a plunge into the Islamic world would produce what it was designed to prevent. We could create more terrorists than we would kill.
For the root of 9/11 was Islamic hatred of America’s perceived domination and a fanatic determination to drive us out of their world.
They were over here because we were over there. And if we went over there in even greater force, even more Muslims would rise up to expel us from what is, after all, their neighborhood, not ours.
So the anti-interventionists argued.
After 58,000 dead we left Vietnam. How many Americans have the Vietnamese killed since we left?
William Pfaff agrees, but in different terms:
The war against terror now being conducted from the White House, with the increasing use of drones, obviously is a self-perpetuating and self-enlarging undertaking that of its nature guarantees that the United States is the creator and perpetuator of the very war it fights.
What has happened to this administration? We know that the Republican Party is now institutionally deranged. The government bureaucracy has since 9/11 been purged of dissent, militarized, securitized, all of its members now under orders to spy on all of their fellows to report any suspicious move anyone might make. Washington is thereby rendered increasingly immobile when confronted with a need for thoughtful action. The world regards the American government today with amazement and no little fear.
The George W. Bush administration, the neo-conservatives, the Zionist movement and now the Barack Obama administration, have out of colossal ignorance and lack of prudence gone to war against this fundamentalist movement. It is this upheaval that Mr. Obama thinks he is going to conquer, with his drones and his talismatic technological modernism of mass information—and supposed mass omniscience.
These tools now tell American governments about everything except the essential facts. These facts are that Islamic fundamentalism will fail because theocracy cannot survive in the post-Ottoman world. This already is being demonstrated in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. Despite that, Islamic society will in the end settle its own history—which may prove only another tragedy. The other fact is that an arrogant and foolish United States, as exists today, can only harm itself by interfering, and become part of the tragedy.
Were I to travel abroad today, I’d have to say repeatedly “I love my country but detest its government.” Because I write blogs like this, I could add “and oppose it openly.” And I can tell my grandchildren that I did not sit idly by as the Great Hubris played out.
History, insofar as it cares at all, will presumably find plenty to fault in my positions (I am reflexively opposed to violence).
But I very much doubt that history will say “Islamic fascism arose spontaneously and the United States of America fought valiantly against it.” The judgment, I fear, will be more like “Islamic extremism arose in response to the insouciant American crypto-Empire, and America fanned the flames, to keep the voters scared and compliant, until the Great Collapse of the American Hegemon, which the world greeted with a sigh of relief.”
In other words, I think we’re living in an unfolding tragedy, wherein America’s tragic flaw – the felt necessity of being about something, of needing a grand-if-not-grandiose mission, of being a “nation with the soul of a [fundamentalist] Church” – plays out in folly, perversity, and collapse.
And then … it will be some other empire’s turn, until Messiah comes (again).
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)
One of the reasons I’m burned out on the two major parties is that, to a disgusting extent, they are one party, The War Party. That party’s going to be the death of this nation, as giddy, thoughtless, hubristic wars make us odious in the eyes of the world and eventually bankrupt us.
This is not conservatism. This is not Christian. This sure as hell is not “Christian conservatism.” No amount of drum-beating about Radical Islamic Terrorist Hoards can make it so.
The best conservative response to terrorism, it seems to me, is what I first heard from Pat Buchanan: If there’s no solution, there’s no problem.
Terrorism is an evil, not a problem. We will not eradicate it (Hatfield probably said something like Bush’s second inaugural before he set out to end McCoy terrorism – or was it McCoy ending Hatfield terrorism?), and I personally – call me silly –
don’t didn’t want to give up the Republic trying to eradicate it.
And while my individual position may shade into “isolationism” (due to personality quirks and a history of conscientious objection and borderline pacifism), the historic Christian conservative mainstream position is not isolationist.
That’s all I need to say to introduce and commend to you a great current piece by Winston Elliott III at The Imaginative Conservative. The author is appreciably more hawkish than I am, despite his having a son in the Army, but far less adventurist, interventionist and lunatic than either Dubya or Obama or anyone who’s taken seriously for President next year (Ron Paul, the favorite of active military people, not being taken seriously).
Every conservative concerned about American foreign policy should read Foreign Policy for Conservatives on this site. This brilliant description of a conservative foreign policy is excerpted from Russell Kirk’s book The Political Principles of Robert A. Taft …Those who wish to use the American military to effect regime change in foreign lands are sensitive to terms like “war party.” They say this is an exaggeration of their position. Poppycock. Let’s go ahead and add “interventionist” and “lover of foreign adventure” for good measure. They do not like it because it accurately describes their approach to using the military might of the American Republic. They are open to spending American blood and treasure whenever they feel that people in a foreign country are “oppressed” or their leader is a “tyrant” or “dictator.”…Before they start calling me an “isolationist” again let me state my position clearly (as I have before on this site). I don’t believe in “isolationism.” However, I do believe that prudence demands we count the costs of our actions, especially so that we learn from the past and may make better decisions in the future. Certainly 6,000 U.S. dead, 33,000 wounded, and $1.3 trillion is a very high cost indeed. Is it not legitimate to ask was it worth it?…Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet, and other notable conservatives, have expressed great concern that centralization and militarization have been the greatest threats to preservation of the principles of the American Republic. They were not isolationists. They were true patriots who wished to guard against taking actions to destroy the enemy that may simultaneously lead to undermining the ordered liberty we claim to fight to preserve.I am for taking military action against those that clear evidence indicates threaten the safety of our Republic and its citizens. But, does this necessitate a permanent military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan? How about Germany, South Korea and Japan? Is there no end to this? If not, I fear that we must (as Brad Birzer has suggested on this site) admit that the Republic is lost and that we fight to defend a democratic empire … My policy … is simple: I say kill the enemy and come home. Don’t move into his house and call it defense….
I will say this again. When the real interests of Americans are threatened then to use military force is permitted. Kill those who plan to kill us. Destroy their bases. When necessary, go back and do it again. That is prudent application of military force against the enemy. It is not pacifism or isolationism. Don’t occupy foreign nations for decades, longer than WWI and WWII combined. This is foolishness. And it is not conservative.
All I ask for, beg for, is a prudent use of our military. Never one drop of blood for an American empire. Kill our enemies, destroy their bases and bring our boys home. I believe it is conservative to choose protecting American lives over a goal of changing the culture and politics of foreign nations.
Foreign Policy for Conservatives is itself a collection of excerpts, but I’ll be so bold as to pull one of them:
The statesman not concerned primarily with the national interest is tossed about by every wind of doctrine; he pursues with imprudent passion vague ideological objectives, and soon finds himself mired in diplomatic and military quicksands….
Finally, one more personal observation. I alluded to my conscientious objection which, if you know me, you’ll know was Vietnam era, shortly before the abolition of the loathed military draft. But I fear that the abolition of the draft, replaced by a “volunteer army,” has deprived our ruling class from having any flesh, blood or skin in the game of military adventurism. How many of our bellicose GOP hopefuls have a child in uniform? How many served themselves? Do you think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that the Obama girls will go into the Army from Sidwell Friends School, rather than to University of Chicago, Stanford or one of the Ivy League schools?
No, I’m afraid that to our rulers, the flesh and blood of soldiers is just a “human resource,” to be squandered as freely as monetary resources.
We now return to lamestream programming. Look! Kim Kardashian! Chaz Bono! American Idol! Shiny! (HT Mark Shea)
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