June 4, 2003

HELL TO PAY
The War Party will get theirs – God willing

The good news is that, according to one of President Bush's top advisors,

"If many more months go by and our troops are still there, the Iraqis are still fighting each other and us, and we still haven't found any WMD, there will be hell to pay."

The bad news is that all of us, and not just George W. Bush and the Republican party, will do the paying – and not only in terms of shelling out cash, but in the up close and personal sense of losing American lives, breaking up marriages, depriving children of having two parents, and generally wreaking social devastation.

For the Iraqis, the human costs of this war are immediately and dramatically devastating, while the effect on the American side that is, on our own troops, and their families – is slower-acting but, ultimately, no less destructive of the social order. That's the lesson of how the Spartan Brigade, the top-flight unit credited with winning an early victory for the U.S., is being treated. They won the war and, instead of being sent home as promised, they have been assigned to occupy Fallujah the locus of rising resistance to the U.S. occupation. This Los Angeles Times story is no doubt an example of "liberal bias" in the news, because it focuses on what's really important, and not the grandiose schemes of world-saving ideologues:

"They've lived in the mice-ridden desert tents of Kuwait, in their vehicles, in a palace strewn with debris from the bombs of the U.S. Air Force, in a dingy, looted Baath Party complex and, as of this week, at a former amusement park called Dreamland.

"Meanwhile, life elsewhere moves on. 'My son turns 3 in July, and I've missed every single birthday,' said Maj. Roger Shuck. Pvt. Clayton Harper said he has been forced to put off his wedding indefinitely. And Staff Sgt. George Jones said he has 'lost a wife and two dogs out of it.' Jones, a lanky, tanned Virginian with sad blue eyes, discovered his house was empty after reaching his wife on her cell phone for a rare call and asking why she wasn't home."

How dare anyone put their own petty personal concerns above the demands imposed on us by History! Don't they know there's a war on? How can they complain: they signed up to fight, didn't they? Yet the truth is these guys didn't sign up to conquer the world, but to defend the U.S. against those who would harm us. They were lied to we've all been lied to.

Iraq, we were told in the months leading up to the Iraq attack, possesses "weapons of mass destruction" which, the President solemnly assured us, could be used to attack the continental U.S. via drones. He disdained any imperial ambitions, and promised to let the Iraqis determine their own destiny once they had been "liberated." But there's no sign of either Iraqi WMD, or that much-vaunted "liberation" the Iraqis were supposed to be jumping for joy over. The U.S. has decided to bypass the Iraqis and just appoint an "interim government" with no signs of an exit strategy, and more troops headed to Iraq to beef up the occupation. Former Secretary of the Army Thomas White avers that top civilians in the Defense Department "are unwilling to come to grips" with the size and scope of Operation Enduring Occupation:

"'This is not what they were selling (before the war),' White said, describing how senior Defense officials downplayed the need for a large occupation force. 'It's almost a question of people not wanting to 'fess up to the notion that we will be there a long time and they might have to set up a rotation and sustain it for the long term.'"

When General Eric Shinseki testified before Congress just prior to the commencement of hostilities that "several hundred thousand" troops would be needed to keep Iraq pacified, the War Party went ballistic: when Secretary White agreed with him, Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz forced him out. In the rush to drag us into war, the details were slurred over and Americans were presented with a phony dichotomy: either strike, or be struck. Now we find ourselves being drawn into the Middle East vortex, with the War Party eyeing Iran even as we recognize the enormity of what we've bought into.

Our war aims have changed without official acknowledgement, from disarming Saddam Hussein to subjugating much of the Middle East to direct American rule. This is an imperial policy in everything but name. Some, like Niall Ferguson and the bolder neocons, want us to own up to our ambitions. Exhorting us to take up the White Man's Burden, and explicitly model ourselves after our British predecessors, they would make George W. Bush the twenty-first century equivalent of King George III, monarch of the Anglosphere.

WMD or no WMD, the conquest of Iraq was always a shill. We successfully contained Saddam for 12 years and could have continued the same policy without incurring any added costs.

Why, then, did we go to war?

The rationale for an invasion of Iraq seemed to operate on two levels, number one being the myth of WMD and the other that of the "noble lies" floated by our Straussian policymakers the theory of "democratic dominoes," a liberalizing "transformation" of the Middle East effected by force of arms. As the smoke clears, however, we see that both were lies. Yes, the Middle East has been transformed: not into falling democratic dominoes, but a solidly anti-American front.

If you didn't support the war, you didn't support the troops that was the poor excuse for an argument made by the War Party as soon as the shooting started. But now the shoe is on the other foot: As a reward for their victory, the Spartan Brigade is being thrown into a quagmire. The only way to support the troops is to demand that they come home immediately. American patriots say: Out Now!

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

The ongoing debate between the neocons over at National Review and the rest of the conservative movement is taking on some pretty ugly connotations. The obscene accusations made by David Frum against Taki Theodoracopulos, of The American Conservative, which don't even bear repeating, are a new low for the fired White House speechwriter. His arsenal of political smears has given way to personal attacks meant to degrade the accused no matter what the truth of the matter. Taki has answered the swine here.

Frum is a liar, and a poor one at that: the sheer monotony of his complaints, which always revolve obsessively around the single issue of his opponents' alleged "anti-Semitism," ought to set off alarm bells in conservative ranks. When Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton use accusations of "racism" to deflect their critics, conservatives rightly disdain them for playing the race card. But apparently it depends on what race, or religion, we're talking about it. Political correctness, neocon-style, means that others can be called on playing the politics of racial and religious victimology, particularly if they're black or of a Third Worldish hue. It is never ok for Al Sharpton to play the Black Card, but it is always ok for David Frum to play the Jewish Card.

This whole tiresome routine is getting to the point where people can literally not see straight, as in the case of the Chicago Tribune cartoon that caused an uproar from all the usual suspects, including the rival Chicago paper, the Sun-Times. Defending his work in Editor & Publisher, cartoonist Dick Locher denied charges that his portrayal of Sharon as being bribed into accepting Bush's "roadmap to peace" reinforces a "classic" anti-Semitic caricature. Looking at the cartoon, with its bridge of cash being laid out by Bush while a delighted Sharon exclaims ""On second thought, the pathway to peace is looking a bit brighter," one could just as easily take it as an ultra-Likudnik critique of the road-map. Without knowing anything about the cartoonist, one could easily see it as a visual representation of the idea that the whole process is selling Israel down the river. Critics descried the depiction of Sharon as hook-nosed, but on the other side of the money-bridge stands a hook-nosed Yasser Arafat..

Former NRO editor Jonah Goldberg has complained about drawing any connection between the neocons' leftist past and their present-day incarnation: the Trotskyism of Irving Kristol and the gang in Alcove #1 supposedly has nothing to do with the revolutionary zeal of these same people as they hail the spread of militant democracy by the sword. Now, from the other side of the political spectrum, we have the World Socialist Website denying the Trotskyist heritage of so many of our neocons. They mention Antiwar.com, but concentrate their fire on some obscure leftist writer in El Diario/La Prensa, an easy target. We can only wonder how, at the end of a long exposition on the key role played by "third camp" Trotskyist Max Shachtman, they can write the following drivel:

"Whatever connection these [neoconservative] elements may have had with Shachtman were the result not of the latter's former connection to Trotskyism, but rather their agreement with the politics of anti-communism, militarism and Zionism that Shachtman had embraced over the course of some three decades following his break with the Fourth International."

But Shachtman remained a socialist until end of his life, albeit an unorthodox one. And he wasn't the only Trotskyist, as the folks over at WSWS.org are well aware, who took an identical path: the ex-Trotskyist turned ferocious cadre of the War Party is a veritable syndrome, by now. From Shachtman to Christopher Hitchens, the pattern is constantly repeating itself down through the years: Trotsky's errant children swell the ranks of the War Party; furthermore, their connections to their former comrades on the left were never really severed. How does the World Socialist Website explain this?

Frum's attack on Robert Novak, Pat Buchanan, and other paleoconservatives, including this writer, provoked a reaction from mainstream conservatives like David Keene and Donald Devine of the American Conservative Union. Here is Devine's response to the many letters he received in response to his substantive critique of Frum's interdict. While Frum is busy smearing the loveable Taki and descending into character assassination, Devine takes the high road and continues his principled defense of what he calls "fusionist" conservatism.

William A. Rusher, the grand old man of the "official" conservative movement, weighs in on the neocon-paleocon debate once again, inadvertently confirming Devine's point that the American Right is far too beholden to an administration that has abandoned the program of limited government in favor of empire-building abroad.

– 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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