Justin Raimondo is on vacation until the end of the year.  His column will appear irregularly throughout the holiday season.  He will return thrice-weekly in January.

December 15, 2000


Well, now that we've narrowly averted a coup d'etat by Al Gore and his crew of dimple-counting chad fetishists – and doesn't that sound nasty? – is everybody happy? Well, uh, not quite. The reason discontent is beginning to set in is that everybody realizes that the only alternative to the Jerk is the Smirk, known to his friends as Dubya, a character who might be convincing as president of Boy's Town, but chief executive of the United States? I don't think so! Alright, then, I'll cut the cheap Saturday Night Live-type humor and get down to brass tacks: we're out of the frying pan and on our way into the fire.


But, you ask, how can you say that? I mean, after all that caterwauling over the absolute necessity of fighting off Gore and his fellow coup-plotters – column after column, all written in a white heat, and making basically the same point: a Gore presidency would have to mean the End. Yes, and Dubya in the White House in the beginning of another kind of nightmare.


Perhaps the bombs will start falling on Baghdad even before Dubya is installed in the Oval Office, perhaps not. But they fall they will, and sooner rather than later. The ever-volatile Middle East is slated to go up in flames in a war that could spread to the Caucasus and even spill over into the Balkans. Israel and the Palestinians are already fighting the first skirmishes of World War III. Indeed, our unconditional support to the Israelis is the spark that will set off a regional explosion. Everywhere the green flag of Islamic fundamentalism flies, the US will face intransigent enemies. We have seen the first shots fired at the USS Cole – and that is only the beginning.


The rising energy crisis – skyrocketing oil prices, shortages, and the threat of rolling blackouts in California – provide the perfect context for Desert Storm II. The War Party is convinced they can get popular support for such a project due to the widespread belief that we can live in a "green" environmentalist paradise, maintain the pristine beauty of our coastlines, and still maintain all the perks and privileges of an industrial civilization – but only by pursuing a policy of outright conquest. The oil fields of Iraq and the Caucasus are jewels waiting to be shoplifted – and who can object if, suddenly, the self-appointed world policeman decides to stuff them in his pocket? Indeed, who will stop him?


It was pathetic the other day reading the headline on Drudge linked to an Agence France Presse story on the Putin-Castro jamboree in old Havana: "PUTIN, CASTRO BLAST US DOMINATION" Oh yeah? Let's see if I have this right: the head of a bankrupt and fast-crumbling empire rapidly sinking to the economic status of a Third World nation, and the absolute dictator of a small, poverty-stricken island in the Caribbean are joining forces against the US. In Washington, I'll bet they're shakin' in their boots.


The Putin-Castro show was the perfect international backdrop for the ascension of Dubya: a faux cold war tableaux in the era of a President who fancies himself another Reagan. There is the same sense of disengagement, and of non-intellectuality, not to mention many of the same foreign policy advisors. Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and a whole platoon of neoconservative ideologues for whom the cold war never really ended. The infamous Wolfowitz Doctrine holds that even the hint of a rising rival power that could potentially challenge us – in any region of the world – must be met with force or the threat of it. And while some of the advisors who surrounded Dubya's father may not be as fervent in their support for Israel, or for war in the Balkans, the neocon element is increasingly influential. In any case, the new cold warriors are united in their commitment to NATO expansion, the encirclement of Russia, and the never-ending war on Iraq.


Putin is giving the new cold warriors plenty of ammunition: it's almost as if he's playing a part. But he's no Stalin: he's not even a Khrushchev. "We have many unfinished projects in Cuba worth billions of dollars," he burbled, "and we must decide what to do with them," he grandly declared as he sat down with Fidel for a photo op. The Cuban caudillo was in his usual green fatigues, and looked approvingly on as Putin continued on in the same vein: ""Russia intends to bridge the gap between the so-called golden billion and the rest of humanity – and we will be solving this question by taking our very good ties with Cuba into account." They said Yeltsin was drunk all the time, but not even he indulged in this kind of tragicomic bombast. The spectacle is made all the more pathetic because everyone knows that Western bankers could decimate the Russian economy and nation in a matter of days, with a weapon far more effective than any in our nuclear arsenal. By calling in the loans, instead of dropping the bombs, the West saves itself the moral opprobrium of an obvious and messy slaughter. Besides, the investment potential of radioactive Russian real estate is negligible.


The news of the Putin-Castro alliance must have sent a thrill of nostalgia through the cold warrior set. Why, it was almost like old times again, when the Soviet Threat was a dark shadow looming over the world and the unlimited expenditures of the American national security state were at their command. Happy days are here again! It would be funny if it wasn't so dangerous. Of course, only a fool would fall for this line of horse-pucky: the idea that Putin is suddenly turning on his benefactors, who have so far spared no expense in bailing out him and his bankrupt nation, is so absurd that only a conservative would fall for it: But, then again, they fell for it last time, didn't they? If Putin is the enemy of the West, then he is also, in an important sense, our own creation. Make of that what you will.

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“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.


Past Columns

The New Cold War: Who's Afraid of Vladimir Putin?

The Case for Pessimism

The Gore Coup: No Justice, No Peace – No Exit

Bush or Gore: Pick Your War

Gore, Bush, and the Imperial Style

Neo-Nazis and Neocons: An Unholy Alliance

Al Gore – The O.J. Simpson of American Politics

Coup d'Etat 2000 and the Madness of Al Gore

Slobo and Gore: Peas in a Pod

Gore Coup Radicalizes Republicans

The Dimple That Shook the World

Listen Soldier, You Can Stop the Gore Coup

Two Ways to Steal an Election

In Occupied America: Rage Against "The Regime"

More columns

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 (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).


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