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.
CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER
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.
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.
GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY
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?
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
CLIFT AS XENA
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 usexcept 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.
OF THE WAR GOD
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.
continues: "Perhaps all threeKristol, Kagan, and
Brookscould 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?
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.
RE-MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN
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.