January 15, 2003

Is it something in the water?

The evidence that something is causing people to go slightly bonkers is it something in the water? the air? the stars? continues to pile up. For starters, check out the "logic" of Rep. Charles Rangel's bright idea to bring back the draft in order to stop the war:

"I believe that if those calling for war knew that their children were likely to be required to serve – and be placed in harm's way – there would be more caution and a greater willingness to work with the international community in dealing with Iraq. A renewed draft will help bring a greater appreciation of the consequences of decisions to go to war."

But if we want to instill a greater appreciation of the hazards of war among our lawmakers and policy elites, then why not draft their children, and leave the rest of us alone? Oh, but that wouldn't be egalitarian, and is therefore impermissible. According to our resident congressional gadfly, we have to enslave everyone in order to make sure that we're all "bearing the burden" equally:

"A disproportionate number of the poor and members of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the military, while the most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent."

Here is something we don't often see: a black politician, skilled in the rhetoric of racial victimology, complaining that there are too many minorities in a given field. In effect, he wants to institute a white affirmative action program in the military. David Duke would no doubt agree.

The chorus of clueless liberals and coldly calculating neocons who hailed Rangel's proposal is yet more evidence that the national IQ is plummeting fast. The American Prospect took the opportunity "to throw out some reasons why, in principle, mandatory national service is not such a bad idea – indeed, why some liberals might be inclined to support it." War is the health of the state, as the classical liberal Randolph Bourne warned at the turn of the last century, but to modern liberals this is not to be feared, but celebrated.

The administration disdained the Rangel proposal, and most conservatives seemed comforted by the measure's nonexistent chance of passage. Yet Charles Krauthammer endorsed the idea unreservedly on "Washington Week," since we'll need a draft if the U.S. is going to fight all the wars he and his fellow neocons have in store for us. William F. Buckley, Jr., anticipating the pretensions of "national greatness" conservatism by at least a decade, wrote an entire book about the need for a mandatory "national service" to forcibly inculcate the stern spirit of patriotism in our indolent, decadent youth.

The great danger of the Rangel legislation is that it has paved the way for a more serious effort to revive conscription in the near future. If the ostensibly antiwar liberal Democrat from the Bronx can make such a proposal even half-seriously, then it becomes more acceptable for Republicans and centrist Democrats to embrace a position that was previously taboo.

Those who claim a draft will deter the mandarins of power from pursuing foreign military adventures are astonishingly naïve. What makes them think that our elites wouldn't sacrifice their own sons and daughters on the altar of their own hubris? What gets me is that this is supposed to be somehow ennobling, instead of just plain monstrous.

Yes, it's something in the water: perhaps Arianna Huffington's Perrier was spiked with angel-dust when she thought up her infamous anti-SUV commercials. We know she's hot to legalize drugs, but won't there still be laws against public intoxication? In Arianna's case, it is self-intoxication, as with so many drag queens, but in any case one has to wonder about the real subtext of the ads:

"'This is George,' a child says in a sing-song voice. 'This is the gas that George bought for his SUV. This is the oil company executive that sold the gas that George bought for his SUV. These are the countries where the executive bought the oil, that made the gas that George bought for his SUV. And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his SUV."

Those evil Ay-rabs, with their demonic oil, are corrupting our society even as they try to destroy it, says Arianna and her trendy-wendy Hollywood buddies, who hate automobiles, and see the war hysteria as a way to smuggle their environmentalist extremism onto the public agenda. If you don't like how Americans are exercising their freedom, including the freedom of mobility, then just call it "unpatriotic." In the present atmosphere, you'll not only get away with it, you'll score some points.

The real target of the ads, however, was not SUVs, but the Saudis, and, in this context, Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel's key role in mobilizing support for Israel in Hollywood takes on new meaning. Emanuel, head of the powerful Endeavor Agency, is among Huffington's colleagues in the "Detroit Project," which sponsored the ads, along with producer Lawrence Bender, and comedy producer Laurie David. Together they are promoting "fuel efficiency" as the latest fad among the Hollywood elite, and in response Tinseltown has taken up the hideously slow half-electric "hybrid" cars as the newest politically correct status symbol:

"The list of Hollywood's hybrid-come-lately car owners reads like the table of contents of People magazine: Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carole King, Billy Joel, David Duchovny and Bill Maher, to name-drop a few. Patricia Arquette bought one recently; so did rocker Jackson Browne. Larry David bought three, including one so that his character, 'Larry David,' could drive one on his HBO series, 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.'"

"I got a little tired of hearing how we're at war," trills Arianna, "and we're being asked to do nothing about it but go shopping, go to Disneyland and the mall." It seems she can't wait for the shooting to start. One wonders, by the way, what other great sacrifices our Hollywood sybarites will make, other than buying the "Prius" in two or three different colors – at twenty grand a pop.

Patriotic asceticism as the latest Hollywood fad just happens to fit in rather nicely with the vicious anti-Arab and specifically anti-Saudi campaign being run by the neoconservative Right, which dreams of toppling the regime in Riyadh and installing American military governors throughout the Middle East:

"'We want to point out how our driving habits are fueling oil money to Saudi Arabia – which funnels some of that wealth to support charities and religious zealots with ties to terrorist activity,' co-founder Lawrence Bender said."

What hogwash. If Bender has evidence that the Saudi government financed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then he and the "Detroit Project" should come forward with it. If not, then they should clam up. What we heard in those ads was a smear, an assertion not backed up by even an iota of evidence: but that, after all, is what war propaganda is all about.

Bender, too, is one of Israel's biggest friends in Hollywood, and it is therefore no surprise that he would pursue this blatantly propagandistic approach that simultaneously demonizes Arabs and paints our traditional allies in the Gulf as our not-so-hidden enemies.

Huffington herself linked her anti-SUV campaign to something called the "Evangelical Environmental Network," a group of "born again" Baptists which is getting behind the "fuel-efficiency" propaganda campaign with its own, even crazier ads, that ask: "What would Jesus drive?" These are the same "dispensationalist" nutballs who call themselves "Christian Zionists" and believe that America must unconditionally support Israel because it (supposedly) says so in the Bible: no wonder they're coalescing into an alliance with pro-Israel groups in the name of "fuel efficiency" and "environmentalism."

Speaking of craziness, Stephen Schwartz has penned yet another wild screed for David Horowitz's Frontpage declaring that Antiwar.com is "neo-fascist." Yeah, that's right, we're "neo-fascist" libertarians. Go figure. Not only that, but we are part of an "axis of evil" that includes the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Pravda newspaper! As to which Pravda he was referring to this one, this one, this one, or perhaps this one remains mysterious, but then so does the answer to the question of why anyone should take this loon seriously. Certainly not his readers over at Frontpage, who were decidedly not amused by his incoherent ramblings.

Among his other lies, one stands out: the charge that Antiwar.com "adulates [former Serbian dictator Slobodan] Milosevic." The problem for Schwartz, however, is that anyone can look up my record on the Milosevic question, and see that I consistently attacked Slobo and called for his ouster not by NATO, but by the Serbian people, an event that I celebrated when it came to pass.

"In its latest iteration, Antiwar.com charges that Yugoslavia was destroyed by President Clinton," rants Schwartz, "even though the breakup of Yugoslavia began in 1990, when Clinton was still the relatively-obscure governor of Arkansas and the future founders of Antiwar.com were soliciting gay votes for Patrick J. Buchanan."

You see, as a gay person, I would only be "soliciting" votes for Buchanan among my fellow gays, here in the ghetto or something like that. Other unsubtle allusions to my sexuality permeate his perfervid rhetoric: "But Antiwar.com, however much lipstick is put on the pig, cannot cleanse itself of its brown, neofascist stains." Methinks Schwartz has brown stains on the brain. He would do well to stay in the closet with his weird obsessions. As for the role of Bill Clinton in the rape of the former Yugoslavia, only the truly deluded would try to deny it.

"Suleyman" Schwartz also inveighs against Antiwar.com as "the West's leading advocate, even surpassing the Wahhabi lobby, for the obscene theory of Israeli guilt for 9/11." But is Salon, which ran an article suggesting Israeli foreknowledge of 9/11, not even in the running? And what about Fox News, which ran a four-part series on the Israeli connection to the terror attacks? Are they "obscene," and, if not, why not?

Speaking of obscenities, check out this news bulletin from the Iraqi Communist Party on why they have decided to abstain from joining the "coalition" assembled by the U.S. to take over postwar Iraq. Not that they weren't invited, you understand:

"The Iraqi CP will not be taking part in the 'Opposition Conference' which is to be held in London next month, due to 'differences regarding how such a conference should be convened, and how to build an alliance,' in addition to 'differences in opinion regarding the way to deal with international forces.'"

According to Mr. Hameed Majid Mousa, the Secretary of the party's Central Committee,

"The proper way of convening such a conference is through direct consultations among Iraqi patriotic opposition forces, without interference or patronage from any foreign quarters."

Lest Donald Rumsfeld has his feelings hurt by this seeming rejection, however,

"Mr. Mousa pointed out that keeping out foreign interference and patronage 'does not, at all, negate our need and desire for international support and backing. The priority, however, is to activate our Iraqi forces in the struggle against the dictatorial regime, and only then to approach the international community and its members, including the United States. In this way, we would be laying the basis for a normal relationship within a framework of international legitimacy, in congruence with the UN Charter.'"

The cold war may have ended, but are the would-be "liberators" of Iraq so hard up for allies that they would try to recruit fans of Saddam's role model, Joe Stalin, in the interests of uniting the "opposition"? The pathetic answer is: yes.


On January 23, I will be speaking at a conference organized by the Palestine Center on "Israel's Policy of Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing," at the National Press Club 529 14th Street NW Washington, D.C.

I have an article in the January issue of Chronicles, the indispensable monthly magazine put out by the Rockford Institute, entitled "War Birds." The piece is not online, but you really ought to subscribe.

My new book, The Terror Enigma: Israel and the 9/11 Connection, will be published on 9/11/03, by Verso Books.

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

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