Glenn Greenwald’s ‘Sincerity Meter’
(AntiWar.com) -- by Justin Raimondo --
When oh when are American progressives going to recover their moxie – the fighting spirit of their predecessors, like Bob La Follete – and stand up against the warmongering and the assault on civil liberties that characterizes the Obama administration? I keep asking myself that question, even as the apparent answer becomes all too clear.
The evidence that the long silence of the progressives will be extended throughout the already-started presidential campaign season was on display in Washington this week, as the confirmation hearings for Leon Panetta as the new Defense Secretary commenced. The Huffington Post reports:
"Robert Gates is due to retire as defense secretary in three weeks, but his named successor, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta, said Thursday he plans to continue Gates’ policies.
"At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, he spoke of bolstering defense spending, staying the course in Afghanistan and Iraq, treating al Qaeda as a standing threat and maintaining the most powerful military in the world.
"’Secretary Gates and I pretty much walk hand in hand on these issues,’ Panetta said at the hearing."
Imagine an alternate history in which the Vietnam war continued for another decade or so – and was extended throughout Southeast Asia. Imagine, too, that a Democratic president – say, oh, Hubert Humphrey, since we’re in an alternative universe – not only continued LBJ’s war policies, but escalated the war, and nominated war-supporter and US Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-Boeing) to head up the Department of Defense. Envision Jackson stating in his confirmation hearing that he and his predecessor "pretty much walk hand in hand on these issues" – and then imagine what Senator William Fulbright would make of this pledge of continuity.
Unfortunately, today, there are no Fulbrights to speak truth to power. Instead, we have fake-"progressives" like Barbara Boxer, who, instead of grilling Panetta, chirped:
"’Good luck, and I hope the committee does this quickly,’ Ms. Boxer said after describing Mr. Panetta as her mentor and ‘very smart, but he also gets it.’"
It’s Boxer who doesn’t "get it": she masquerades, for the benefit of her California progressive constituency, as an opponent of the Afghan war, calling for a drawdown and rapid withdrawal, and yet she gives a free pass to Panetta, who wants to "stay the course." Fulbright’s ghost is railing from the netherworld – but, alas, today’s progressives are deaf to his pleas.
Not a single Democratic legislator of real national prominence has stepped up to the plate to challenge Obama’s relentless expansion of our eternal "war on terrorism," let alone stood up against the Obama-ite assault on civil liberties. Dennis Kucinich is the one exception, but his leverage in his own party is minimal, at best: indeed, more Republicans voted for his resolution calling for a complete withdrawal from the Libyan conflict than did Democrats. In response, the War Street Journal ran an editorial mockingly denouncing the "Kucinich Republicans."
Glenn Greenwald rightly calls Democrats on this, disdaining the "partisan tribal loyalties" that distort political judgment and rule out any kind of ideological or moral consistency when it comes to foreign policy and civil liberties issues...
But what of the growing conservative Republican opposition to our wars and the PATRIOT Act – do these merit Greenwald’s support? Well, yes, and no. Yes in the sense that any opposition to these misguided and downright dangerous policies is a good thing, in and of itself, but no in the sense that these oppositionists are, too, motivated by opportunism pure and simple:
"Is there really genuine anti-war sentiment growing among the GOP? I sincerely doubt it. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that the true test of the authenticity of claimed political convictions is whether they endure regardless of which party controls the White House...
Insincerity abounds, because defending civil liberties and opposing unnecessary wars – "these inherently non-partisan and non-ideological principles" – "have been deliberately warped into prongs in the partisan wars — partisans care about anti-war and pro-civil liberties issues only when their party is out of power." Which is why "no effective constituency for them can be created. Beyond that, trans-partisan and trans-ideological coalitions are extremely difficult to assemble because tribal loyalties render them sinful and heretical."
I’ll tell you another thing tribal loyalties have rendered sinful and heretical: ascribing sincerity to members of the other tribe, which is something Greenwald seems unwilling or unable to do.
Greenwald is wrong, on two counts.
If we take Greenwald’s theory of partisanship to its logical conclusion, then no one is ever capable of learning or changing – and, of course, everyone is a cynical partisan hack. Yet his attack on the sincerity of the rising antiwar GOP’ers such as Sen. Rand Paul and the "Kucinich Republicans" in the House, is manifestly unfair: many if not most of them weren’t even in office during the Bush era, and, indeed, arose specifically in opposition to the free-spending "Big Government conservatism" that characterized Bush II’s reign.
Secondly, Greenwald is wrong about the defense of civil liberties and opposition to the militarism of the National Security State being "inherently" "non-ideological." Indeed, no more intensely ideological issues are currently at the heart of the national discourse. The revival of the Old Right in the Republican party and among the grassroots conservative movement is an intensely ideological phenomenon, one which inherently distrusts any and all government action – including overseas. The GOP Establishment is fighting a losing rearguard action against them, but they have the momentum and seem destined to triumph – precisely because of the disaster visited on the nation (and the GOP) by Bush II’s foreign and domestic policies.
Opposition to the gutting of the Constitution and the policy of untrammeled imperialism is inherently inscribed in the conservative-libertarian tradition, and the revival of this tradition is what is energizing the "tea partiers" and the rising "Kucinich Republicans." Except that they aren’t "Kucinich Republican," they’re Taft Republicans, as in Robert A. Taft [.pdf], the leader of the conservative wing of the GOP in the 1940s and early 50s, whose opposition to interventionism and the Warfare State, although not always consistent, symbolized what the liberal interventionists of the time derided as "reactionary isolationism."
Progressives, too, have such a tradition, one that was often allied with – and is inextricably linked to – the "reactionary" anti-interventionism of the Old Right. The problem for today’s antiwar pro-civil liberties progressives is that many of these old progressives – such as Montana Democrat Senator Burton K. Wheeler, and the writer John T. Flynn – inevitably became Old Right conservatives, simply because their brand of progressivism lost out to the "modern" variety epitomized by Franklin Delano Roosevelt [.pdf] and Harry Truman.
On the right, the neoconservatives soon took over the post-war conservative movement and imbued its anti-communism with a militant militarism which sought to "roll back" the supposedly ever-expanding power and influence of the Kremlin. This ideological hegemony persisted as long as the cold war lasted, but after communism imploded as an international force a movement grew up on the right to reclaim the lost legacy of such anti-interventionists as Taft and Flynn: the Old Right was reborn.
On the other hand, no parallel effort to reclaim the legacy of the old pre-WWII progressive movement has appeared on the left. That’s because the "modernizing" super-centralism of FDR has won a permanent victory among those who style themselves "progressives." The march of progress, in this view, is defined as the march of government power across the American sociopolitical landscape as the ultimate solution to our problems: and, except for a brief "New Left" flirtation with decentralism, that victory has been sealed in the policies of the Obama administration – and virtually unanimous support for them among progressives – which concentrate all power in Washington, D.C...MORE...LINK
Chris Moore comments:
It all makes sense once people (including Greenwald) recognize that modern Washington is the equivalent of a dysfunctional marriage, with “mommy” (the Left) fleecing the taxpayers with claims that its “for the children” and then layering the largesse on her cronies (ie government unions, social welfare programs, “community organizer” scams, environmental scams, foreign aid scams, UN scams) and “daddy” (the Right) fleecing taxpayer’s by claiming its “for national security” and then layering largesse on the military industrial complex.
Now “mommy” (the Left) is trying to move in on “daddy’s” national security racket.
The problem with statist-liberals like Greenwald (who is better than most, but still blinkered in this area) is that they can’t admit, even to themselves, that their side is all part of the racket, part of the dysfunction, and actually started the dysfunction by initiating the Big Government/Keynesian/Marxist-lite racket. We all know where these Fed bankster scam artists came from -- the Left, which was in on financing the Bolshevik Soviet Union by these same, low-cunning types.
The Left forces conservatives to engage in warmongering to justify its national security largesse scam, which becomes necessary because otherwise the Left will continue to thieve, steal and swindle from the taxpayers, and use Big Government to do it, until we’re all slaves just as the people of Communist Russia became.
Slavering support for Israel and larger ideological Zionism is the litmus test on who can be trusted, which is probably what scares Greenwald, given that the entire Democratic Party at the national level is Zionist occupied territory, just as is the neocon wing of the GOP.
Their support for ideological Zionism is what betrays these statist-"liberals" as utter frauds, and would-be totalitarians. Same goes for the neocons.
Greenwald may be an anti-Zionist, but there’s no point in criticizing Israel, the Israel lobby, and Zionism if you’re not going to take on the larger statist-liberal, Keynesian economic mechanism it uses to sustain itself.
Greenwald’s position reminds me of those who argued that a majority of Jews opposed the Iraq war. Maybe so, but an overwhelming majority of Jews support Israel and the Zionist ideology that facilitated the Iraq war and that partnered with the neolibs and neocons in the treachery, so their professed opposition to the Iraq war was meaningless, and in some cases a trick to dodge accountability.
The economics of Keynesianism and Zionism demand conquest and Big Government war, treachery, and increasing totalitarianism to keep the Ponzi scheme going.
Mike Cormany [in article comments]: "The left "forces" the right into warmongering? Hitler as victim..."
Hitler was not a victim, but an opportunist.
His "success" was enabled by Bolshevik mass murder in the Soviet Union, which facilitated his rise by whipping Europe into a frenzy of fear.
Similarly, 9/11 facilitated the rise of the Bushcons and neocons, but it was statist-liberal, neolib-neocon international micro-managing/hegemony/imperialism necessitated by the economics of the Keyenesian Ponzi scheme that triggered the attacks in the first place, if Islamist really did the attacks. And if they didn't, well then the REAL conspiracy was necessitated by the economics of Keynesianism/Zionism.
Even mild Keynesianism can only work for a period of time if there is an economically responsible, patriotic, and mature leadership and elite at the helm who won’t plunder a country’s credit.
Modern liberals and the neolibs/neocons are none of those things.
Is Greenwald not a Keynesian? If not, why does he write for Establishment-liberal, Keynesian-supporting Salon magazine?
Many of his other positions are irrelevant and useless if he supports Keynesian economics.
Greenwald is a lawyer. That doesn't surprise me in the least. The low ethics, self-deceit, and culture of dishonesty learned in law school in modern times is a major component of the problems we have in this country.
Greenwald is probably about as honest as lawyers get, but he comes up short, as do all liberals, because of their refusal to accept their own starring role in the dysfunction, and their unwillingness to recognize that the systematic corruption is part and parcel of the moral failings of liberalism, too.
One needs to go backward through the “progressives,” through the left-liberals, through the crypto-Commie element of FDR left-liberalism, through the Bolsheviks, all the way to Karl Marx and Moses Hess to understand the murderous, racist, economic scam, theft and wealth-transfer racket that so much of modern-leftism is to this very day (and so much of its poisonous spawn, right-wing socialism and corporatism is, as well.)
It’s all fruit of the same poisonous tree. So to say that conservative-libertarians who refuse the poisonous fruit should ignore the left-liberals who are gnawing away at the poisonous fruit and even make common cause with them because some of these liberals are genuinely anti-war is asking the conservative libertarians to engage in a suicide pact.
If left-liberalism were to ever totally rule out, because it is inherently coercive and based on an economic racket and Ponzi scheme that can ultimately only maintain itself through theft and murder, the hierarchy of left-liberalism would inevitably end up using Big Government to do to the conservative-libertarians exactly what was done to the Whites by the Bolshevik Reds -- mass murder.
I have no doubt Greenwald and other genuine anti-war liberals would not endorse nor participate in this, but I also have no doubt that they could do nothing to stop it, and would likely end up in some neo-Gulag themselves if they tried.
Because the conservative -libertarians have the moral high-ground here, let authentic liberals of good conscience come to them, not the other way around.
American Keynesianism is beloved by corrupt and parasitic foreigners who rely on the American sugar daddy to finance their treachury, too.
I’m sure Netanyahu is all for American Keynesianism. It’s what finances his Zionist ideology, agenda and aggression. It’s one reason America is in the Middle East propping up the dollar at gunpoint, and simultaneously acting as Israel’s bodyguard/enforcer/enabler/lackey.
The Bushcons/Cheneyits/neocons figured they could use 9/11 as a pretext to start wars that would kill two birds with one stone: re-enforce Zionist supremacism, and perpetuate the dollar hegemony necessitated by Keynesianism.
Marxist economics is merely an extreme version of the Keynesian racket. Both concepts are the products of grifters intent on plundering a country’s resources and credit (Keynesianism at a slightly slower pace than Marxism), and sold to masses of people with child-like minds who want to believe there is such a thing as a free lunch, and who want to believe the government can make money grow on trees indefinitely.
Like the liberals of today, the commies also tried to sell their murderous racket with humanitarian platitudes like “social justice” -- which a lot of liberals pretended to believe even in the face of Communist mass murder.
Liberal moral authority is crumbling faster than the American Empire. Liberals are the morally and intellectually defective passive-aggressives who turned the Democrat Party over to the Zionists the second they started playing the “anti-Semitism” card, and because the knew they were cunning an ruthless political hatchet men, like the moral-defective Weiner .
Yes, I despise Keynesian liberals as much as I despise Keynesian neocons. And they’ve both earned every ounce of contempt. That more people don’t despise both is an indicator of how far we have fallen as a country, socially, morally and intellectually, under Keynesian/liberal/State Capitalist hegemony.
The question is: who is best morally, intellectually and ideologically suited to stop the runaway Empire and its attempts to enforce Keynesian/Zionist/Globalist hegemony? Who has the least amount of blood on its hands, and who is the least vested in perpetuating the bloody status-quo?
Not corrupt liberalism. It had its shot with Obama, and has failed miserably.
The Ron Paul wing of the GOP is the only plausible hope, but liberals like Greenwald simply can’t bring themselves to get behind him, or people like him such as son Rand.
This makes them part of the problem to the extent that they divert political energy and moral authority away from the Pauls and towards the corrupt, liberal status-quo.
The fact is, Establishment liberalism simply has too many special interests feeding at the Big Government trough to effect change. It will maintain the current leviathan status-quo until the country collapses economically.
Some liberals seem to have calculated that all of that lucre being wasted on the military-industrial complex can be reigned in and diverted to them to perpetuate the status quo, but this will never happen, because the military is largely a Keynesian right-wing jobs program just as federal government unions are largely Keynesian left-wing jobs programs.
The liberals claim the federal government union jobs are “essential” to running America, and the neocons claim the military-industrial complex is “essential” to national security. Both sides are merely playing the Keynesian game. It's a dishonest, selfish, destructive, sham game that is destroying America.
The Greenwald defenders have a point; he’s probably among the last on the left who deserves criticism. But where the rubber meets the road, he seems to believe the liberal status-quo can be salvaged, and he additionally ridicules the government skeptics on the Right as essentially cranks and conspiracy theorists (e.g. the Clinton-era “dark tales of black U.N. helicopters, Janet Reno’s goon squads (i.e., federal law enforcement agencies), and domestic eavesdropping warrants issued by the secret and nefarious FISA court”).
Yet, as it turns out, all of the worst fears of those paranoids on the Right who were so suspicious of where the liberal status-quo was taking us have materialized in spades.
Why can’t Greenwald admit they were right all along? He’s caught in the dualistic, zero-sum paradigm world view, wherein if the left-wing loosens its reins, the right-wing will immediately take up the slack, and people who trust the good will of anyone on the other side are “suckers.”
This same world view, for example, is exactly why the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations never go anywhere. And it is a world view that has increasingly infected America.
Yet Ron Paul and conservative-libertarian’s long track record of principled opposition to war and Empire should be enough to convince anyone. Paul is exactly the kind of politician that will stick to his principles and can be trusted to do so. So why won’t Greenwald get on board the Ron Paul train instead of running down the Tea Party movement that could carry him to victory as inhabited by paranoids?
I don’t know, maybe he will. Some people here say he’s moving in that direction, but he also seems to quickly lapse into sneering liberalism at even the thought of the Right.
Only the deluded believe there’s some profound difference between the major factions of liberalism, who have for years told us how anti-authoritarian they are even as they never miss an opportunity to grow government in one area or another in order to use it to coercively impose their half-baked thinking and agenda on others.
Good ideas will find a constituency in the marketplace of ideas and don’t need government to do anything than keep a minimum presence and neutral peace.
Authentic, minimal government liberals simply call themselves libertarians instead of going through all of the phony gyrations of how they are so different than this liberal faction or that.
Self-deceivers and frauds try to have it all ways.
Keynesian, “liberals” simply don’t want to hear that they’re as corrupt, complicit and evil as the right-wing onto which they disingenuously attempt to cast all the blame.
In some ways, they’re worse, because they paper over their guilt and malice with saccharin-sweet, liberal platitudes, even as they participate and benefit from the murderous Keynesian racket to the same extent as right-wingers.
Just like the Zionists (another infantile, passive-aggressive group of moral defectives) they simply can’t stand to hear the truth about themselves, and so they go into attack mode to short-circuit legitimate criticism and drown out word of their guilt.
Good luck with that.