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government | imperialism & war | political theory selection 2004

American Conservative Magazine endorses Kerry

But this election is not about John Kerry . . .

It is, instead, an election about the presidency of George W. Bush. To the surprise of virtually everyone, Bush has turned into an important president, and in many ways the most radical America has had since the 19th century. Because he is the leader of America's conservative party, he has become the Left's perfect foil—its dream candidate. The libertarian writer Lew Rockwell has mischievously noted parallels between Bush and Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II: both gained office as a result of family connections, both initiated an unnecessary war that shattered their countries' budgets. Lenin needed the calamitous reign of Nicholas II to create an opening for the Bolsheviks.
Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation's children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor: it is as if Bush sought to resurrect every false 1960s-era left-wing cliché about predatory imperialism and turn it into administration policy. Add to this his nation-breaking immigration proposal—Bush has laid out a mad scheme to import immigrants to fill any job where the wage is so low that an American can't be found to do it—and you have a presidency that combines imperialist Right and open-borders Left in a uniquely noxious cocktail.

During the campaign, few have paid attention to how much the Bush presidency has degraded the image of the United States in the world. Of course there has always been "anti-Americanism." After the Second World War many European intellectuals argued for a "Third Way" between American-style capitalism and Soviet communism, and a generation later Europe's radicals embraced every ragged "anti-imperialist" cause that came along. In South America, defiance of "the Yanqui" always draws a crowd. But Bush has somehow managed to take all these sentiments and turbo-charge them. In Europe and indeed all over the world, he has made the United States despised by people who used to be its friends, by businessmen and the middle classes, by moderate and sensible liberals. Never before have democratic foreign governments needed to demonstrate disdain for Washington to their own electorates in order to survive in office. The poll numbers are shocking. In countries like Norway, Germany, France, and Spain, Bush is liked by about seven percent of the populace. In Egypt, recipient of huge piles of American aid in the past two decades, some 98 percent have an unfavorable view of the United States. It's the same throughout the Middle East.

Bush has accomplished this by giving the U.S. a novel foreign-policy doctrine under which it arrogates to itself the right to invade any country it wants if it feels threatened. It is an American version of the Brezhnev Doctrine, but the latter was at least confined to Eastern Europe. If the analogy seems extreme, what is an appropriate comparison when a country manufactures falsehoods about a foreign government, disseminates them widely, and invades the country on the basis of those falsehoods? It is not an action that any American president has ever taken before. It is not something that "good" countries do. It is the main reason that people all over the world who used to consider the United States a reliable and necessary bulwark of world stability now see us as a menace to their own peace and security.

These sentiments mean that as long as Bush is president, we have no real allies in the world, no friends to help us dig out from the Iraq quagmire. More tragically, they mean that if terrorists succeed in striking at the United States in another 9/11-type attack, many in the world will not only think of the American victims but also of the thousands and thousands of Iraqi civilians killed and maimed by American armed forces. The hatred Bush has generated has helped immeasurably those trying to recruit anti-American terrorists—indeed his policies are the gift to terrorism that keeps on giving, as the sons and brothers of slain Iraqis think how they may eventually take their own revenge. Only the seriously deluded could fail to see that a policy so central to America's survival as a free country as getting hold of loose nuclear materials and controlling nuclear proliferation requires the willingness of foreign countries to provide full, 100 percent co-operation. Making yourself into the world's most hated country is not an obvious way to secure that help.

I've heard people who have known George W. Bush for decades and served prominently in his father's administration say that he could not possibly have conceived of the doctrine of pre-emptive war by himself, that he was essentially taken for a ride by people with a pre-existing agenda to overturn Saddam Hussein. Bush's public performances plainly show him to be a man who has never read or thought much about foreign policy. So the inevitable questions are: who makes the key foreign-policy decisions in the Bush presidency, who controls the information flow to the president, how are various options are presented?

. . .

But neoconservatism now encompasses much more than Israel-obsessed intellectuals and policy insiders. The Bush foreign policy also surfs on deep currents within the Christian Right, some of which see unqualified support of Israel as part of a godly plan to bring about Armageddon and the future kingdom of Christ. These two strands of Jewish and Christian extremism build on one another in the Bush presidency—and President Bush has given not the slightest indication he would restrain either in a second term. With Colin Powell's departure from the State Department looming, Bush is more than ever the "neoconian candidate." The only way Americans will have a presidency in which neoconservatives and the Christian Armageddon set are not holding the reins of power is if Kerry is elected.

If Kerry wins, this magazine will be in opposition from Inauguration Day forward . . .

George W. Bush has come to embody a politics that is antithetical to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism. His international policies have been based on the hopelessly naïve belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies—a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky's concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft. His immigration policies—temporarily put on hold while he runs for re-election—are just as extreme. A re-elected President Bush would be committed to bringing in millions of low-wage immigrants to do jobs Americans "won't do." This election is all about George W. Bush, and those issues are enough to render him unworthy of any conservative support.

November 8, 2004 issue

homepage: homepage: http://www.amconmag.com/2004_11_08/cover1.html
address: address: The American Conservative

Almost right 26.Oct.2004 13:30


Actually, the magazine itself did not endorse Kerry. The editors were split. To quote: "Unfortunately, this election does not offer traditional conservatives an easy or natural choice and has left our editors as split as our readership. In an effort to deepen our readers' and our own understanding of the options before us, we've asked several of our editors and contributors to make "the conservative case" for their favored candidate. Their pieces, plus Taki's column closing out this issue, constitute TAC's endorsement. —The Editors"

It is worth checking out the "AboutUs" section of their website for more of an idea of where they are coming from.

Hopefully they will sway some people to vote against Bush...

Bush administation not conservative but NEO conservative 26.Oct.2004 19:53


what makes Bush a strange conservative is the NEO-conservative makeup of much of is administration.

'Alone' indicts neocons, Bush

By Stanley I. Kutler, September 12, 2004

Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke are experienced, conservative foreign policy experts. Halper served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, and Clarke had extensive service in the British diplomatic corps.

In "America Alone," they document the neo-conservative capture of American (and British) foreign policy, under the guise of a war on terror, to reorder Mideast politics and initiate a new doctrine of pre-emptive war.

Halper and Clarke are insiders who know the players and the sources. Their thoughtful, insightful work spans ideological and partisan differences, a rare phenomenon in these times.

The authors understand the history of American foreign policy. Detente, bipartisanship and respect for the views of allies are at the center of that history; they are not, as the neocons would have it, notions of weakness best replaced by a militant American world view and unilateralism.

Halper and Clarke blend realism and idealism. For them, victory in the Cold War resulted from a firm U.S. adherence to the doctrine of containment and a moral authority rooted in fostering the idea of a free, open society. Now, the authors contend, President George W. Bush and a band of ideological zealots have put that moral authority at risk.

"America Alone" levels a broad indictment against the Bush administration, which in the name of the war on terror has launched the Iraq war, mounted an assault on personal liberties at home, engaged in a purposeful deceit of the media and the public and, above all, has inflicted terrible damage on U.S. moral authority. The chief culprits for the authors are the neocons, who are depicted as conspirators who hijacked American foreign policy.

This is not exactly news, but the argument never has been put together so persuasively, so conclusively and so effectively.

Today neocons are the key Bush players, including Vice President Dick Cheney; his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; and Rumsfeld assistant Paul Wolfowitz. They are seconded by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and influential academic intellectuals and writers who preach warnings and celebrate their alleged triumphs.

The neocons have masked themselves as the true keepers of the Reagan flame, but Halper and Clarke will have none of that. The neocons, they bluntly charge, have "falsified history" and have inflicted a "historical mugging" on Reagan.

The neocons' mobilization for the Iraq war lies at the heart of this book. Saddam Hussein's tyranny apparently gave them no pause during his 10-year war with Iran. But George H.W. Bush's Persian Gulf War in 1991 left them embittered when Bush prudently decided that occupying Baghdad would only complicate the American role and endanger the grand alliance he had constructed.

The neocons were convinced that toppling Saddam would enable the United States to make Mideast politics more responsive to American wishes - and, not incidentally, also to help the Israelis. The idea had its origins in the late 1990s, when Richard Perle and Douglas Feith offered a bizarre plan to Israel's Likud Party calling for American-Israeli cooperation to overthrow Iraqi and Syrian regimes with American assistance. Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud's leader, wisely rejected this grandiose vision.

The neocons persuaded Bush that regime change was essential in Iraq, although in his few pre-presidential foreign policy utterances he had specifically rejected such a course. After Sept. 11, the neocons advanced "evidence" that Iraq played a crucial role in al-Qaida's worldwide terrorism plans. Halper and Clarke demonstrate that the neocons knew that the fundamentalist-dominated al-Qaida had no connection to the secular Saddam.

They knew that Saddam was no threat to American interests or values. The Persian Gulf War taught him not to threaten his neighbors - exactly as Richard Clarke argued, to no avail. The administration had very little evidence - precious little, as we have learned - that Iraq had nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction.

Halper and Clarke denounce the Bush administration for effectively co-opting "important allies and entire government agencies in a pattern of deceit." The administration, they believe, created "a synthetic neurosis," which it buttressed by exploiting the Sept. 11 attacks. The price has been enormous, they say, with "substantial damage" to both core American political institutions and to American "institutional legitimacy."

With an election campaign looming, President Bush now concedes that "I believe in the international institutions and alliances that America helped to form and helps to lead."

Alas, the president and his advisers have rediscovered American history and policy only as our financial and military resources have dwindled, our moral authority has evaporated, our allies have become alienated and, worst of all, our adversaries are newly energized.

Regime change in Iraq, as this book tells us, has substituted one order of chaos for another, but this time at the cost of substantial American blood and treasure. The war in Iraq was imposed amid a climate of fear and patriotic fervor, with manufactured deceptions about our purposes and the enemy's.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal, ruthless tyrant, but he was no Adolf Hitler, and no realistic threat to the United States and the rest of the world, whatever George W. Bush and his neoconservative warriors tell us.