WACO OF THE BALKANS
Waco of the Balkans enraged many conservatives. Most conservative
leaders and commentators, almost to a man, were against the
subjugation of Serbia, and not only or even primarily because
they saw it as Bill Clinton's war. Rightist opponents of the
war were among the most active and visible, far more so than
those on the left: Arianna Huffington, Ollie North, and Pat
Buchanan spoke for the virtually unanimous rank-and-file of
the conservative movement when they condemned NATO's war on
moral, political, and legal/constitutional grounds.
Bill Kristol and his Weekly Standard who editorially
called for "the crushing of Serb skulls" years before
their wish came true signed on to the "humanitarian"
crusade to install the KLA in Kosovo. But he has since threatened
to join the Democrats out of frustration at the GOP's stubbornly
anti-interventionist stance now remember, Bill, you
promised and it seems possible that at long
last the American Right is beginning to rediscover its anti-imperialist
RISE OF THE PALEOS
Buchanan has done a good job of reminding them since 1992,
when he came out against the Gulf war. That was really the
beginning of a trend on the Right that defined itself as anti-globalist
and which took up Buchanan's slogan of "America First."
Grouped around Chronicles
magazine, the "paleo-conservative" movement began
to take shape. While still a small minority, the paleos, vigorously
attacked the Cold war conservative doctrine of globalism,
and were further invigorated by a large influx of libertarians,
such as the late Murray N. Rothbard. For the paleos, the issue
of the first Gulf War boiled down to a simple question: would
America take the path of Empire, or return to the Old Republic?
But they were still a small if vociferous minority; most conservatives
fell for Bush's war, out of loyalty to a Republican president
as well as to the Cold War mindset. When Bill Clinton took
office, the tide was already turning. By the time he was into
his second term having sent U.S. troops to overseas
trouble-spots more times than all three previous presidents
combined conservatives began fully absorbing the lesson
of the last eight years: Buchanan was right. And when it came
to Kosovo, they were ready to listen to him when he denounced
it as an imperial adventure unworthy of a great power.
HAMMER OF PEACE
of my old column, the "Wartime Diary," which I wrote
five times a week during the bombing, will recall with what
breathless glee I greeted the sudden conversion of Republican
leaders and conservatives in general to the noninterventionist
cause. With Tom "the Hammer" Delay hammering on
the warmongers, they didn't stand a chance! Oh, I had high
to a large degree they have been fulfilled: conservative opinion
has made a U-turn since the end of the Cold War, and in the
case of Kosovo the Right has truly turned a corner: there
is no going back to the old untrammeled warmongering of the
OF THE WAR PARTY: DAVID HOROWITZ
that won't stop David Horowitz from trying. With his "Committee
for a Non-Left Majority" (CNLM), he has launched
what he would like everyone to believe is a major effort to
re-ignite the Cold War spirit and revive the old warmongering
habits of conservative activists. He claims to have raised
$125,000 in a campaign to make China-baiting and Russia-bashing
the leitmotif of the GOP's campaign in 2000, and is engaged
in a high-octane effort to raise more. In the first issue
of the CNLM newsletter, The
Spark, Horowitz denounces
"the meaningless post-Cold War agreement between Russia
and the United States not to target one another's cities."
waxes hysterical about the alleged threat from Russia: "it
would take exactly fifteen seconds for Russian commanders
to retarget any of the hundreds of strategic missiles tipped
with multiple nuclear warheads that are ready to go."
could naturally be said about any agreement limiting
nuclear weapons, or any other kind of weapon: is Horowitz
seriously suggesting that therefore we should never
try to negotiate limits on nuclear weapons? But his alleged
hero, Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, was also the
Great Peacemaker. It was Reagan who initiated and signed the
disarmament agreements that paved the way for the de-targeting
agreement Horowitz denounces.
is odd to hear the rhetoric of the Cold War in a world without
Communism, but in the strange world of David Horowitz the
Cold War never ended. He claims that "the Russians are
energetically planning for the possibility of war with the
United States." But just how energetically could the
Russians be planning to nuke the one nation that has so far
bailed them out of bankruptcy and propped up the Russian government?
but it isn't that simple. The fact that Russia is "in
a state of near dissolution" may put a bit of a crimp
in the Russians' energetic war preparations, but "they
are not alone" in their conspiracy. Horowitz is convinced
that North Korea and China are in on the plot. North Korea,
which cannot even feed its own army, is less a threat to US
national security than Mexico, which has already invaded our
territory with an army of millions of illegal immigrants.
for China, the real issue between the US and Beijing is the
status of Taiwan, the breakaway province that the US refuses
to recognize as an independent entity. This is the real flashpoint
that has the potential to spark a war between the US and China.
Here the analogy with Kosovo is virtually complete in every
respect: here we have yet another ethnic and political minority
that has broken away from the central government and can continue
to exist only as long as it remains a US protectorate. As
in the case of Kosovo, the US is not only intervening in the
internal affairs of another nation, it also insists on maintaining
the fiction of national sovereignty while abrogating it in
every respect: officially, the US adheres to the "one
China" policy and rejects the idea of an independent
Taiwan, just as it upholds a policy of "one Yugoslavia"
and opposes independence for Kosovo.
PEAS IN A POD
similarity is even more striking when we consider the nature,
history, and current policies of the Chinese and Yugoslav
regimes: both are controlled by former Communists who increasingly
turned to nationalism as the appeal of Marxism waned; both
are accused ethnic cleansers, the Chinese having cleansed
the Tibetans and the Serbs having nearly emptied Kosovo of
Albanians. Why is it that conservatives are eager to go to
war for Taiwan, but could care less about Kosovo? They argued
that the US national interest was not served by intervening
in the Balkans, yet how is it in our national interest to
risk war over an island he size of one of the smaller states
on the other side of the Pacific? In the case of Kosovo, conservatives
argued that this was a European problem, and that the Europeans
had better use their resources to solve it. Why, then, do
they fail to exhort the Japanese, the South Koreans, and our
friends the Australians to pool their resources and start
providing for their own defense?
CARICATURE IN SEARCH OF A CAUSE
is an ex-New Leftist who used to pal around with the Black
Panthers and was an editor of Ramparts, a red diaper
baby raised by Communist Party stalwarts who turned against
the god that failed him with a vengeance. Rejecting his Marxist
past, he endorsed Ronald Reagan for president, organized the
Center for Popular Culture (CPC), and conducted a relentless
war against his former comrades. Instead of embracing conservatism,
however, he morphed into a leftist caricature of the right-wing
activist as a doctrinaire warmonger and unabashed militarist.
Completely reversing the faith of his youth, when the favored
chant at Commie demonstrations was "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh,
the NLF is gonna win," Horowitz to this day defends the
war in Vietnam as a just and noble cause. In this sense, he
became his own worst nightmare.
HUCKSTER IN SEARCH OF A RACKET
the disappearance of Communism, however, the importance (and
marketability) of anti-Communism in the conservative canon
is considerably reduced, if not entirely eliminated. Old stories
about Huey Newton and the sixties can only take you so far:
and political correctness has been so thoroughly debunked
that the whole rationale for the CPC was losing its resonance.
The appeal of militarism and global crusading was rapidly
losing its cachet. A new racket was needed, a new enemy required,
preferably a foreign enemy. Most of all, a new pretext was
needed for a military buildup, to defeat the new conservative
"isolationism" and the Cox Report filled
spite of the fact that not a single person has been charged,
let alone arrested for stealing US nuclear secrets on behalf
of China nor is anyone likely to be American
conservatives have gone into a frenzy over the Cox Report.
Horowitz has taken full advantage of this golden opportunity.
The Spark speculates that the real reason for the laxity
when it comes to nuclear secrets is that "top Clinton
officials responsible for this mess have been left-leaning
skeptics about Communist threats in the past, and radical
critics of American power." What planet is Horowitz living
on? These are the same people who just launched a massive
air campaign, killing thousands of civilians, against a country
that never invaded or even threatened us. With "radical
critics" like these, American power doesn't need any
RUSSIANS ARE COMING!
conspiracy theories cooked up by Horowitz are as lurid and
unbelievable as the headlines in a supermarket tabloids: RUSSIAN
GENERAL SAYS "WE WILL NUKE YOU!" According to The
Spark, a nameless Russian general threatened to explode
a nuclear bomb in the atmosphere over eastern United States.
SECRET RUSSIAN PLAN FOR WORLD WAR. The Spark reveals
for the first time anywhere, folks the secret
Russian plan to dig a giant underground bomb so that the Russian
elite will survive the nuclear war they are planning to launch
just as soon as we lend them the money to do it!
REPUBLICAN PARTY A MARXIST PLOT?
the conspiracy to destroy America and launch a nuclear first
strike isn't limited to just the Russians, the Chinese, the
North Koreans, and the Democratic National Committee. According
to the frothy-mouthed Horowitz, "the Republicans
on the Cox Committee became complicit in an essential part
of the cover-up." Are they, too, "radical critics
of American power?" (If only it were so!) Is their
loyalty to be called into question?
style and tone of CNLM propaganda is hysteria bordering on
mania: if we don't immediately spend billions more on the
military, says Horowitz, "American children will die."
Nothing less than "civilization is at stake if we don't
improve the military, develop an anti-missile defense and
aggressively pursue our security interests." Just how
aggressively is something that Horowitz never gets around
to describing in explicit terms, but the implicit message
is clear enough: war with Russia and/or China is inevitable,
and so we might as well start preparing for it now. Taking
the "logic" of the CNLM to its supremely irrational
conclusion, the really final solution to the Russo-Chinese
problem is to launch a nuclear first strike before
they cement their ties and build up their defenses. This is
the ugly secret at the core of the new Cold Warriors' agenda,
the craziness behind the shrill rhetoric of Horowitz and his
CNLM and here we leave the field of politics entirely,
and cross into the realm of psychopathology.
of psychopathology, Horowitz's book, Radical
Son, a memoir of his days as a Commie, is in a category
all by itself. There have been plenty of confessional volumes
by ex-Communists: even before Whittaker Chambers, a bevy of
Communist Party defectors not only wrote books but testified
before congressional committees and sent several of their
ex-comrades to jail. But not until Horowitz has any of these
professional stool pigeons turned in their parents.
two loyal CP members he characterizes as "permanent conspirators
in a revolutionary drama," and "agents of a secret
service," virtual pod people whose sinister activities
deserved the repression that was visited on them. At the height
of the anti-Communist witch-hunt, his parents, both public
school teachers, were hauled before the administration on
charges of subversive, with the result that his father was
fired and lost his pension, and his mother was forced into
retirement. In his account of this crisis in the Horowitz
household, he writes: "My father was not a Party leader,
and merely lost his job. This is an exceedingly strange
sentiment coming from the son of a man who has been fired
for his political beliefs, but he soon graduates from the
merely strange to the downright bizarre: in a stunning show
of just how badly ideology can distort the human personality,
Horowitz justifies the persecution of his parents by asking
"what more could they have expected?" After all,
he writes, they "wanted to overthrow existing institutions."
In other words, they deserved it.
a passage that can only be described as profoundly weird,
he writes that his parents and their comrades ought to thank
their lucky stars that "they were neither executed nor
tortured and spent hardly any time in jail." What is
really grotesque about this very public display of hatred
and anger directed at his parents is that he prefaces his
denunciations of them with declarations of his undying love.
LENIN OF THE WAR PARTY
is typical of Horowitz that he would name the newsletter of
his newly founded CNLM The Spark. Lenin's newspaper
in pre-revolutionary Russia was called Iskra
The Spark and Horowitz no doubt sees himself
as the neoconservative Lenin, a master tactician and ideological
entrepreneur. But the CNLM is hardly a revolutionary outfit:
its' whole purpose is not to overthrow power, but to suck
up to it and, more importantly, to profit from it.
to the CNLM are confronted with a
form that lists four possible choices: $10,000, $5,000, $1000,
and "other." Clearly, Horowitz is expecting to make
a bundle out of his crusade to "save civilization"
from the combined Russian Threat/Yellow Peril. He is already
boasting that he has brought in $125,000 in two weeks, and
you can bet that it and this rich haul clearly did
not come from little old ladies sending in their $20
checks. Horowitz is obviously expecting to reap his reward
from the same came from the people most likely to profit from
the huge "defense" spending increases that the CNLM
is pushing the same companies that brought you NATO's
noxious 50th anniversary celebration, and are now licking
their chops at the prospect of fat military contracts to be
had in Kosovo and Albania.
STALKING HORSE FOR BUSH
is the kind of character a novelist could never get away with,
for fear of being panned a mere caricaturist. Unfortunately,
the conservative movement is rife with such phonies, who feed
off the ignorance and good intentions of their deluded contributors
and supporters. But it is clear to any discerning right-winger
who bothers to take a closer look at the CNLM that the group
is nothing but a fundraising machine that, insofar as it has
any clear political purpose other than to spread error
is a stalking horse for George Bush. The
"Pollwatch" column of The Spark shows
Bush beating Gore in four different polls: no other candidates
are listed. Horowitz also did a puffpiece "interview"
with Bush, published in Salon, in which he lobbed softballs
at the candidate. Even the name of his group is a dead giveaway:
a "Committee for a Non-Left Majority" is a far cry
from a Committee for a Conservative Majority and the
CNLM is most emphatically not that.
clue is not only in the name, but also in the CNLM program,
which is decidedly weak on economic issues. There is no mention
of tax cuts, and no mention of economic issues at all except
in the context of helping "minorities." Point 2
in the CNLM
declaration of principles reads: "Give Minorities,
Poor People and Working Americans a Shot at the American Dream
Government welfarism, regulations, taxes and quotas, excessive
urban crime, lower performance expectations, and metastasizing
school bureaucracies are oppressing poor people, minorities,
and children and cutting off their opportunities." But
what about average middle-class Americans who happen not to
belong to a racial minority group? Don't they suffer
from the effects of government welfarism? After all, they
get the bill for it. Aren't they oppressed by regulations,
taxes and quotas, crime, and the rotten public schools? What
kind of "conservative" frames the fight for property
rights and justice in terms of "empowering" minority
victim groups doesn't the middle class majority have
is singing the same "compassionate conservatism"
mantra coming out of the Bush camp. In a piece published in
The Spark, Horowitz touts "Conservatism
with a heart" and opines: "Now that would make
a promising Republican platform: Liberate the American people,
most especially minorities and the poor, from the oppressing
shackles of liberalism. But to be credible in advancing this
agenda, conservatives have to first reach out and show people
they care." Will somebody please answer the following
question: why oh why is it a sin to "care"
about the fate of the white middle class?
Horowitz poses as a conservative
militant, but his real politics only echo Bushian bromides.
Speaking the language of racial victimology so beloved by
liberals, at the top of his agenda is a remilitarization of
American society and a renewed globalism that can only end
in war. Essentially he is no more a conservative than the
Scoop Jackson Democrats who later became known as "neconservatives":
Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, and the Commentary
crowd. Like his neoconservative comrades, who turned rightward
only because of their fanatical devotion to the military destruction
of the former Soviet Union and their celebration of war, Horowitz
was never much interested in economic issues, and the CNLM
program reflects this: the main preoccupation is with billions
more for the "defense" contractors and the alleged
need for an "aggressive" foreign policy. In Horowitz
and the CNLM, the right-wing of the War Party is desperately
trying to stage a comeback. Let us hope conservatives have
the sense to see through the sham and boycott this phony and
all his dubious works.