The Liberal Complex
Idealism, not economics, drives American militarism.
(The American Conservative) -- by Michael C. Desch --
...January 20, 2011 is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s first and only inaugural speech, which contained many memorable phrases that would crystallize the bipartisan consensus in favor of an overly ambitious American foreign policy. In it, the new president promised to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” He enthusiastically welcomed “the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.” These stirring sentiments would seduce Americans across the political spectrum, from human-rights liberals to neoconservatives, and lead them to coalesce behind a series of foreign-policy debacles from Vietnam to Iraq.
The problem with American liberalism, as the Harvard government professor Louis Hartz observed, is that it has a tendency toward excess in opposite directions: on the one hand, liberalism underestimates the difficulty of transforming the world in its own image because liberalism assumes that it is the natural culmination and aspiration of humanity—that it is, as Francis Fukuyama would later put it, “the end of history.” On the other hand, liberalism contains a deep fear of the non-liberal—whether a Communist/nationalist rebellion in Southeast Asia in the 1960s or an Islamicist rival today—and fosters the sense that America could never survive in the face of such opposition. In a classic manifestation of the hubris-nemesis complex, these two very different faces of American liberalism combine Janus-like to produce a self-righteous yet trembling colossus stumbling around the world.
That liberalism—specifically a desire to spread democracy and protect human rights—was the fount of America’s most recent exercise in overreach, the Bush administration’s Iraq War, is controversial. But the argument that the military-industrial complex was behind it is even harder to sustain. It was, after all, the American oil industry that was most opposed to sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, and the oil patch was hardly clamoring for war after 9/11.
Nor was the U.S. military itching for a fight with Saddam in the winter of 2003. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki’s doubts about Iraq being a “cakewalk” in which a handful of American troops could waltz in, oust Saddam, and leave the Iraqis to set up a Jeffersonian democracy were widely shared among senior military officers.
It was civilians in the second Bush administration, including the president himself, who raised these hopes, not only publicly—where they buttressed other, less altruistic arguments for war such as Iraq’s purported support for terrorism and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction—but also in the most secret counsels of the White House and Pentagon, as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz confessed to a reporter for Vanity Fair.
Bush himself outlined how he saw liberalism and America’s national interest being simultaneously served by the Iraq War:
A free, democratic, peaceful Iraq will not threaten America or our friends with illegal weapons. A free Iraq will not be a training ground for terrorists, or a funnel of money to terrorists, or provide weapons to terrorists who would be willing to use them to strike our country or allies. A free Iraq will not destabilize the Middle East. A free Iraq can set a hopeful example to the entire region and lead other nations to choose freedom. And as the pursuits of freedom replace hatred and resentment and terror in the Middle East, the American people will be more secure.This rationale served not only to win many converts to the Iraq War among the American public—over 70 percent of whom supported it in March 2003—but its democratic and humanitarian elements also garnered support from the so-called liberal hawks on the Left who might not otherwise have hopped on the war’s bandwagon.
But the most compelling piece of evidence that liberalism plays a central role in sustaining a broad coalition for an expansive foreign policy is the fact that after campaigning on a platform of international restraint, President Barack Obama has subsequently embraced and expanded a longer-term commitment to nation-building in Afghanistan and is in many respects taking an even more aggressive stance toward waging the war against terrorism than his immediate predecessor did...MORE...LINK
Neoliberal control freaks hard at work attempting to engineer a species that will finally love, respect and worship their deviant, sociopathic "orientation"
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