July 7, 1999


Are you sitting down? I hope so, because the following news item is going to make you go all wobbly at the knees: for the first time in recorded history, the recipient of a foreign aid handout has rejected the money and told Uncle Sam, in effect, to get lost: "We will not accept US aid for a change in Iraq," Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), told the London-based daily Al-Hayat. According to Akhbar.com [January 21, 1999], the Ayatollah, who resides with his fellow ayatollahs in Teheran, bit the hand that tried to feed him by accusing the U.S. of failing to realize that "the real party responsible for change is the Iraqi people, including the real opposition forces." Last year, some $97 million was appropriated by the US Congress to topple Saddam Hussein: no doubt they'll find someone to pass it out to, but, hey, I could pass for an Iraqi, in a pinch! Instead of sending out all those solicitations on behalf of Antiwar.com, all we have to do is set up the Front for the Total Liberation of Iraq (FTLI), make our pitch, and we're in business.


But the competition is fierce. While the Iraqis are turning up their noses at being on the American dole, others are less particular. The $16 billion foreign aid appropriation recently passed by the House represents a cut of roughly $4 billion. The Senate version of the bill, passed two weeks ago, also mandates cuts, but not as deep. The differences between the two bills will be resolved in a conference committee, and the pressure is on to keep the foreign aid gravy train flowing.


According to Matthew Dorf, in an article for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency [March 29, 1999], the main opposition to the cuts is coming from "the Jewish community, which represents the loudest supporters of foreign aid." While Congress is currently arguing about what to do with an alleged budget "surplus," they are still bound by the strictures of the 1996 balanced budget agreement that requires cuts in federal spending. But the all-conquering Albright knows no strictures, and she lashed out as the House approved the cuts: "These cuts would slash deeply into the bone and sinew of our programs. These proposals are quite frankly outrageous and unacceptable," she shrieked, adding that "as currently constituted [the cuts] represent a clear and present danger to American safety, prosperity and values." The Republican rebellion against the bloated foreign operations slush fund is a clear and present danger to the prosperity of high-living State Department officials, who pad their expense accounts with lavish travel arrangements and sweet deals for their Significant Others, as Linda Shenwick, a recently fired State Department whistleblower has revealed.


The Republican Shenwick was kicked out of her job at the US Mission to the United Nations and transferred to Washington to a made-up job ordering furniture. Hated by Mad Madeleine Albright – for whom Shenwick once worked during Clinton's first term, when Albright was at the U.N. – Shenwick delights in documenting the financial irregularities and extravagance that permeate the bureaucratic culture of the UN. An earlier attempt to purge Shenwick was thwarted by seven Republican senators who held up the nomination of Princeton Lyman as assistant secretary of state in retaliation. This time, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Idaho) is holding up the nomination of Richard C. Holbrooke to the top UN post unless and until the administration lays off Shenwick.


In the battle over the foreign operations budget, the Clinton administration will argue that the $1.9 billion foreign aid package promised to Israel and the Palestinians is the price of peace – but Republicans may be in no mood to pay ransom. Officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee are framing the issue in a lofty context: "We are deeply concerned about these numbers. If they hold up, there will be a severe limitation on America's ability to meet its global responsibilities," said Kenneth Bricker, AIPAC spokesman. "The fulfillment of these obligations is crucial if the United States wants to remain a leader in the world," he intoned. What balderdash! Why is subsidizing Israel's increasingly repressive brand of militarized socialism foremost among our "global responsibilities"? And why, if these alleged responsibilities of ours are so "global," does half the foreign aid budget have to be tied up in footing the bill for Israel unto eternity?


Ira Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, spluttered in outrage that "you can't believe that they would be this irresponsible. I can't believe that the numbers would hold up." Given the legendary power of the Israeli lobby, not many believe that those numbers will hold up. But it is worth asking why, with Israel armed to the teeth, why oh why do we have to keep propping up Israel's decrepit socialist system? This no more represents "American values," as Mad Madeleine puts it, than Israel's recent airstrikes directed at civilian targets in Lebanon.


Forced to operate within the limits imposed by the bipartisan budget agreement, the once nearly invincible Israeli lobby is faced with a new wave of skepticism on the foreign aid front. Even the Clinton administration is proposing a phased reduction of economic assistance to Israel. Foreign aid promotes dependence, introduces market distortions, and ultimately hurts the Israeli economy. The only beneficiaries are US exporters and a relatively small number of Israelis: everyone else suffers from the deleterious effects of these pernicious subsidies, most especially American taxpayers. While the issue is not likely to be sorted out and decided until the budget is finalized in the fall, a call to your congressman, or even better a letter, cannot hurt – and can make a big difference in this fight. It's time to pull the plug on the foreign aid racket, and the time to act is now, before the foreign operations bill is voted on.


The American media is full of stories about heroic little "pro-Western" Montenegro, whose "democratic" President Milo Djukanovic is bravely resisting a Yugoslav-inspired coup. But as the witty and erudite John Laughland reveals in a scintillating piece in The European [June 14, 1998], the truth is somewhat more sinister. Djukanovic, far from being a Western-style democrat, was, up until very recently, a close ally of Milosevic – and is, in any case, a tyrant in his own right. As the leader of a dissident faction within the Stalinist "Democratic Socialist" party, in 1998 he succeeded in expelling his chief opponent, then-president Momir Bulatovic, and installing himself in power. In the subsequent elections, Djukanovic utilized the power of the state media in his campaign for the presidency, and plastered the country with his propaganda, while making sure that the secret police kept the opposition disoriented and operating in conditions of semi-legality. With television broadcasts from Serbia jammed since 1998, and the opposition press harassed out of existence, Laughland writes that "indeed, there is now more opposition press in Milosevic's Serbia than in Djukanovic's Montenegro."


One vignette from Laughland's trenchant piece ought to be underscored: he describes the dreary Communist capital city of Podogorica, once known as Titograd, as being populated "mainly by sinister-looking young men in dark glasses, who spend their day conducting deals over their mobile phones, while their heavily made-up trophy girlfriends look on poutingly." On election night in Montenegro, when the great "victory" of Djukanovic was celebrated, the police surrounded the headquarters of the opposition party and "the 'pro-Western' Djukanovic's supporters – the men in dark glasses – fired off their semiautomatic rifles into the air in celebration." In their penchant for "celebrating" with firearms, not to mention their taste in accessories, the "Democratic" Socialists of Montenegro resemble nothing so much as their allies and brothers-in-spirit across the border in Kosovo, where the KLA is effecting a similar coup.


A recent UPI story [July 3, 1999] informs us that "to bring democracy to Kosovo, international officials must act undemocratically in the short run based on lessons learned in implementing peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina." According to US Ambassador Robert Barry, who has recently been appointed Southeastern Europe coordinator of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the lesson of Bosnia is that "bad institutions" must be rooted out, by force if necessary: "We worked with the (Bosnian) institutions as they were, knowing how imperfect they were," Barry said. "We thought that electing people to serve in these institutions was the answer. It turned out to be the opposite of the answer. We had bad institutions, and the people who had led the country through the war were elected to lead these institutions." Echoing the KLA, Barry, who will be charged with coordinating the reconstruction effort in Kosovo, says that the elections should be put off for at least two years. The reason is that the West needs time to build up an "independent" media, so that the electorate knows what to think and how to vote. From Ambassador Barry's Orwellian description, the new Kosovar media will bear a strong resemblance to its Montenegrin cousin to the northwest: "We have found [in Bosnia] that it's very hard to reform existing media," Barry said. "They were and are heavily dependent on political parties for guidance, for money, and the journalists have been trained in a politicized way. In some ways, it's easier to start from scratch." In Bosnia, where Serb television was banned as "hate speech," and British and American troops seized radio transmitters and TV studios, the model for Kosovo has been honed and developed. "Starting from scratch" means eliminating the opposition, which the KLA is already in the process of doing. With elections postponed to some vague future, the dictatorship of Hashim "the Snake" Thraci and his fellow thugs in the KLA leadership is assured – all in the name of building "democracy."


In his excellent piece for the American Spectator [July 1999], posted here as today's Spotlight, Tom Bethell is properly appalled by the spectacle of liberals marching off to war. When Eleanor Clift complains about "all this whining about civilians being hurt" you know that things are about to get ugly. Bethell diagnoses this bout of left-wing war fever as caused by the bacillus of altruism: "There's nothing in it for us–except that it makes us feel good. We deliver unto those who deserve it a purely disinterested bombing, a moral bombing from on high." In her role as the Xena of the New World Order, the harpy Clift is well cast – only Mad Madeleine herself, butch and full of bluster, would be better for the part.


But the right-wing of the War Party he finds less comprehensible, if no less wrong." Another who has sided with (and egged on) the liberal warmakers is Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard. When I met him at a conservative function recently he said his only regret about the war was that John McCain wasn't running it. . . . Despite dozens of editorials and commentaries, mostly written with his sidekick Robert Kagan, he has not been able to explain, at least to my satisfaction, why he thinks America should try to run the world. . . . Kristol (and David Brooks) have called for "American greatness" conservatism, and one can only wonder what that might look like." That's easy: just get into your time machine and go back before the fall of the Berlin Wall, to a conservatism obsessed with the global crusade against Communism. Since the end of the Cold War, Kristol and his gang of ex-leftists-turned-"conservative" have pined for the good old days when American "greatness" was defined by its willingness to destroy civilization in a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union. Without the prospect of a war to preoccupy them, the neocons have lately taken only a desultory interest in the domestic conservative agenda, exhorting their more right-wing cohorts to moderation at every crucial turn. They only show enthusiasm when the possibility of some real bloodletting presents itself, and so naturally when Bill Clinton finally took the plunge in Kosovo they leapt at the chance to uphold the Cold War image of conservatives as acolytes of the war god.


Bethell continues: "Perhaps all three–Kristol, Kagan, and Brooks–could put their heads together and take another stab at explaining what they have in mind for us, for America, and for the world. More than elections, condoms, and diversity, I'm sure, but what, exactly? I think we should be told." Are we to be spared nothing? We have been told, not only in countless issues of the Weekly Standard – whose deficit must be nearly as big as Kristol's ego by now – but also in an article published a few years ago in Foreign Affairs in which the foreign policy theory of the neoconservatives is proclaimed as being based on the goal of the US establishing a "benevolent world hegemony," as Kristol and Kagan put it. Could anything be clearer than that?


The grand old man of the "isolationist" Right, Garet Garrett, said it in his trenchant pamphlet, Rise of Empire, nearly half a century ago: "Between government in the republican meaning, that is, constitutional, representative, limited government, on the one hand, and Empire on the other, there is mortal enmity. Either one must forbid the other or one will destroy the other." Faced with the choice between a Republic and an Empire, Kristol has clearly chosen the latter – and broken with the conservative mainstream. Expecting him to justify his stand in terms that the Right can understand and sympathize with is like asking the same of Eleanor Clift: both start from the same premise, that the world is ours to save and that the US government is the agent of secular redemption. Between Kristol and the conservative movement he has left behind – or never really joined – there can only be mortal enmity.


At the height of the bombing, Kristol complained bitterly about "isolationist" Republican opposition to Clinton's war, and threatened to rejoin the Democrats. But as Bethell points out, Kristol is himself sounding more like a Scoop Jackson Democrat who believes, after all, that government can and should be the instrument of "national greatness" at home and abroad. Kristol's formal defection to the Democratic party, should it ever come – and we can always hope – is no sudden reversal, but has been a long time coming. He and his fellow "neo"-conservatives never belonged on the Right, and were never comfortable there. Let them join their natural allies on the Left, the Eleanor Clifts and Jack Germonds, where they can inveigh against "isolationism" and cheer the next crusade to make the world safe for capital-D Democracy and Diversity. Not since the Hitler-Stalin Pact has an alliance of such like-minded souls been forged. How nice to see that the longstanding divorce of the Scoop Jackson Democrats and their McGovernite ex-spouses has been annulled, and romance is in the air once again. Marriage is always better the second time around, and we hope that, this time, the right and left wings of the Democratic party can make it work.

Check out Justin Raimondo's article, "China and the New Cold War"

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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 US 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 (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).



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