is not exactly a Christmas color: more like Halloween, but
then there is definitely a Halloween-ish quality to our chieftain
of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, who raised
terror alert from an "elevated yellow" to "high" orange,
and furthermore warned:
information we have indicates that extremists abroad are anticipating
near-term attacks that they believe will either rival or exceed
the attacks that occurred in New York and the Pentagon and
the fields of Pennsylvania."
a case of extraordinarily bad timing, Bob Novak's column
the next day detailed the panic setting in among Democratic
party leaders at the near certainty of Howard Dean's nomination:
Democratic savants I have contacted can only shake their heads
over his stubborn insistence that Saddam Hussein's capture
has not made the country safer."
"savants" haven't a clue. Ridge proved that Dean is absolutely
right: the country, far from being safer, is more vulnerable
than ever before. Or else why is the Department of Homeland
Security spreading fear and insecurity far and wide?
U.S. intelligence community has received a substantial increase
in the volume of threat-related intelligence reports. These
credible sources suggest the possibility of attacks against
the homeland, around the holiday season and beyond.
reporting reiterates and this is a constant stream of reporting
that al-Qaida continues to consider using aircraft as a
weapon. And they are constantly evaluating procedures, both
in the United States and elsewhere, to find gaps in our security
posture that could be exploited."
but not to worry! We're on the job, Ridge assures us. Ah,
but just in case, he says, in his dorky, hapless way, it's
always good to be prepared:
have said many times before that homeland security begins
at home. I guess it means I'm saying it again. Your awareness
and vigilance can help tremendously. So please use your common
sense, and report suspicious packages, vehicles or activities
to local law enforcement. Go over your family emergency plans,
and if you haven't developed one by now, please do so."
out the duct tape, Martha! And, hey, what's that suspicious
package doing under our Christmas tree? Somebody call the
is Ridge telling us all this? If it's true, and we really
are facing the imminent threat of another 9/11, I would
think that the authorities would implement security procedures
in utter secrecy. Isn't the idea to keep the enemy in the
dark as much as possible?
time our esteemed Director of Homeland Security opens his
mouth I feel less safe. One wonders if that's intentional:
if they deliberately appointed someone who might make a good
principal of the local high school, but hardly seems the type
to be in charge of such a vitally important and deadly serious
agency. Just to scare the bejesus out of us.
at that he is surely succeeding. According to Ridge and other
federal officials, the would-be terrorists are still fixated
on the airliner-as-weapon-of-mass destruction, only this time
may be planning to home in on American targets from neighboring
Mexico and Canada, where security is relatively lax. One report
has it that the terrorists are trained as professional
pilots working for foreign airlines, but that's just the
beginning of the bad news. A plethora of plots, according
to raw intelligence reports, are in the making, and their
methods and geography are wildly disparate. One particularly
scary report headlined by Matt Drudge reports:
of the recent intelligence makes broad references to large
urban areas, including New York, Washington, Los Angeles and
Las Vegas, while other pieces of intelligence cite such obscure
locales as Rappahannock, a county in Virginia, and Valdez,
Alaska, where tankers load oil from the Trans-Alaska Pipeline,
according to several senior U.S. officials."
"massive volume" of intelligence has our protectors "confused,"
according to this report, and that is certainly reassuring
to know. Oh, but don't you fret, says Ridge and our clueless
President, just "go about your business."
And kiss your sorry ass goodbye
our officials run around like chickens with their heads cut
off, reduced to reacting to whatever signals the terrorists
choose to send out, the soft underbelly of the Empire is exposed
for all the world to see. Something so big and complex cannot
be successfully defended against this kind of assault.
may be winning on the battlefields of Iraq and wherever
else the neocons' would march but if we lose the battle
on our own turf if we lose New York, or much of Los Angeles,
not to mention Rappahannoc County can we credibly claim
we sure could use some of those National Guardsmen fighting
insurgents in Iraq over here right now, guarding bridges,
dams, trains, and airports all of which are under threat,
according to U.S. government officials. Iraq is "the
central front" of the war on terrorism, says the President.
But this is refuted as the nation braces for a massive body
blow that could come anywhere, at any time.
was right to say that the conquest and occupation of Iraq
hasn't made us one whit safer, but it's much worse than that:
it has made us less safe than ever before in our history.
The American homeland hasn't been in this much danger since
the burning of Washington by the British in the War of 1812.
is the crowning irony of empire. We have gained the whole
world, or a good deal of it, but at a cost we are only now
beginning to calculate. In 1955, Garet
Garrett, the Old Right author
and journalist, summed up our present predicament:
now, thou American, frustrated crusader, do you know where
it security you want? There is no security at the top of the
thine own self a liberator, to the world an alarming portent,
do you know where you are going from here?"
IN THE MARGIN
with the voice of a poet and the insight of a prophet, Garrett
foresaw America's imperial predicament, just as the last remnant
of the old anti-interventionist conservative trend he exemplified
was gasping its last breath. An elegiac tone pervades his
writings. Garrett knew his side was losing, but he didn't
go down in silence: as a writer he was clearly addressing
the future, in such works as Rise of Empire,
Ex America, The Revolution
Was, and The American Story,
his last published book, from which the above is taken.
was the first generation
of the modern conservative movement in this country, the "Old"
Right that opposed the New Deal and FDR's drive to get us
into another world war. That his works are being reprinted,
volume of his antiwar editorials for the Saturday Evening
Post, and finding an audience is part of a growing trend
on the part of many conservatives to reclaim
their lost heritage.
of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right:
The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, are
familiar with the concept of the Old Right. It was an alliance
of conservatives, libertarians, and independent contrarians
who opposed the centralizing, militarizing, homogenizing power
of the Leviathan State, and stood on the barricades defending
their old Republic until the last man had been picked off
the ramparts. In writing that book, my hope was that I was
not only describing the history of that movement, but also
helping to quicken its rebirth. As I begin work on a second,
completely revamped edition of that book with a new title,
and a lot of additional material I am pleased to report
that the Old Right is indeed back, and getting stronger and
more variegated by the day.
Old Right was never a centralized, monolithic movement, but
rather a coalition of conservative businessmen, populist progressives,
libertarian intellectuals (e.g., Garrett, H. L. Mencken,
Albert Jay Nock,
Frank Chodorov, Rose Wilder
Lane), anti-interventionists, and plain
ordinary Americans who feared hated Conrad Black's hero
as a would-be dictator and conniving
in those halcyon days, before the ex-lefties
now known as neocons imposed the Soviet idea of a "party
line" on the conservative movement, the Right was a peaceable
kingdom in which all manner of tendencies engaged in friendly
competition for the attention and allegiance of rank-and-file
activists: traditionalists, libertarians, and "fusionists"
who sought to reconcile the demands of tradition with the
requirements of a free society.
"new" Old Right is repeating much the same pattern, with the
latest addition to the family being the "fusionists" who take
their name from the set of ideas developed
by Frank S. Meyer, the conservative theoretician who graced
the earlier incarnation of National Review before
that journal was, sadly, taken over by party-lining neocons.
decline of National Review, and its evolution into
the voice of Big Government Conservatism, is a subject that
clearly troubles the editors of the new fusionist online journal,
sponsored by the American Conservative Union. In "The
Problem of National Review," published in the
first issue, the editors ask:
was the premier magazine of American conservatism during the
greatest assault on limited government in the last 40 years?"
to the fusionist rebellion against neoconservative domination
of movement institutions, such as National Review,
is a clear understanding that we can't have limited government
and an empire on which the sun never sets:
recent years, National Review had editorially proclaimed
colonialism as a reasonable replacement for a foreign policy
based upon George Washington's narrowly defined U.S. interests
with few entangling alliances. But 9/11 had loosened all restraints
against the historic conservative position as each week became
a celebration of new world areas into which American power
(and soldiers' lives) should be thrust by people who had as
yet to accept that dangerous assignment themselves. NR
was cynical enough in its treatment of the War that it defended
jailing detainees at 'Gitmo' without legal counsel on the
basis of past court decisions holding this appropriate as
long as a war was in progress. It ignored the fact that National
Review itself had proclaimed this war will not end until
terrorism is eliminated everywhere in the world. Consequently,
that war will never end and presumably neither would the internment
of the enemy detainees."
without end, and the overthrow of our constitutional form
of government: is this the "conservative" program of
the new millennium? I think not, say the fusionists, who repudiate
in spirited polemics the "national greatness" conservatism
embraced by the Weekly Standard. Noting Standard
editor Bill Kristol's call for more troops in Iraq, the
editors of Conservative Battleline opine:
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is criticized for only wanting to
'bring the level of U.S. forces down.' President Bush himself
has already announced a reduction and it looks as if he has
an exit strategy rather than a victory strategy. The Weekly
Standard does not like that one bit. We will have to wait
and see whether the editors are so determined that they will
create their own special, special forces unit to make up for
the 'parsimony' of the administration's commitment of American
lives and fortunes to their goal of eternal peace and democracy
in the Middle East."
a great idea! Let's send Bill and his fellow laptop
bombardiers to Iraq! No doubt the Neocon Special Forces will
dispense with the prohibition against gays in the military:
how else could we enjoy the spectacle of Andrew Sullivan in
uniform and with those "killer
muscle glutes" dodging RPGs and trying hard not
to ogle anyone in the showers?
Conservative Battleline is the latest addition to the
Old Right "family," and to them we give a hearty welcome.
They are part and parcel of the same movement represented
magazine, The American Conservative, and that
loose coalition of libertarians who look to Murray N. Rothbard
as an ideological
exemplar, including the founders of this website.
of Chronicles, my article, "The Communitarian Warlord,"
appears in the December issue, wherein I examine the cult
of "communitarianism" lorded over by Amitai
Etzioni, onetime confidante and advisor to Bill and Hillary,
and now representing the touchy-feely "communitarian" wing
of the War Party. Sorry, it's not online: you'll just have
Or you can order a copy ($3.95 plus shipping) by giving them
a call, toll-free, at: 800-397-8160.
of The American Conservative, check out the latest
revelations by Karen Kwiatkowski about the shenanigans going
on in the legendary "Office of Special Plans" the secretive
cabal of intelligence analysts, free-lance ideologues, and
others who fed the White House bogus "evidence" of Iraqi WMDs
and links to Al Qaeda. Part I introduces us to
the rarified world of Pentagon analysts and bureaucratic infighting,
Part II (sorry, not online: you know, you
really ought to subscribe) shows how the intelligence-gathering
process was subverted by the War Party. The third and final
installment, which appears in the upcoming issue of The
American Conservative, may prove to be the most interesting:
a foreign connection, with unusual access to the Pentagon
and its secrets, is named and nailed. Ms. Kwiatkowski is
not only a patriot, she writes with style, and comes across
like the heroine of
a Robert Heinlein novel: competent, tough, observant,
and unconventional, with a woman's eye for color and detail
and a no-nonsense approach to life.
the fearmongers shamelessly
broadcast their panic, and we are forced to endure the trials
and tribulations of an Orange Christmas, we
do have a few presents under the Christmas tree. Let us give
thanks for the progress we have made, and the growth of a
new upsurge of anti-interventionism, coming from the Right
as well as the Left. Like the ghost army conjured by Aragorn
the tables against the armies of Sauron,
the return of the Old Right could prove to be the decisive
factor in the defeat of our modern-day Orcs.
thanks, also, that the neocons are discredited,
and for rumors that Paul Wolfowitz, the principal intellectual
architect and defender of this war, is on
the way out. Time magazine reports that, having
served as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's intellectual
"alter ego," the Wolf is coming to a parting of the ways with
allowed Wolfowitz to push the whole Bush team to the right,
which also let Rumsfeld align himself with that crowd when
it served his purpose to do so. The Rummy and Wolfie show
may soon go off the air. It is widely believed in national-security
circles that Wolfowitz may leave the Administration sometime
in 2004. He has become too controversial for Bush to promote
to Defense Secretary; Wolfowitz believed that U.S. troops
in Iraq would be greeted with rose petals. He remains unbowed
about the postwar effort."
but not undefeated. Wolfie and his fellow neocons have aroused
resentment on the Right as well as the Left, and if Bush gives
any indication that he's ditching them before the election
you'll be amazed at how quickly they'll turn. If Howard Dean
captures the Democratic nomination, and the President moves
to the center on foreign policy, continuing to disengage in
Iraq and, under political pressure, even comes up with a
timeline for withdrawal a third party ticket of renegade
Democrats is just the sort of vendetta campaign the neocons
time, you'll remember, Bill Kristol and Marshall "We are all Shachtmanites,
now" Wittman, corralled John McCain: this time, why not
Miller? Or even the megalomaniacal McCain, again, who
seems to wilt whenever he's out of the spotlight.
Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz split is noted in Conservative Battleline,
in a piece by Donald Devine detailing his visit to Iraq, in which he expresses
the discomfort of the fusionists at prolonging this foreign
adventure any more than is necessary, and hopefully opines
that we are seeing the beginning of the end:
good news is that the end of the U.S. occupation is in sight
and the military and civilian leaders are moving enthusiastically
and rationally to implement the plan. President Bush has already
announced that the number of troops will be reduced from 132,000
to 100,000 by April 2004. The scattered forces necessary during
the interim are being consolidated in an operation 'local
standoff' so that they will become less vulnerable to attack,
especially in Baghdad, after the Iraqis take control. One
senior officer predicted that the number of fixed locations
would be down to a handful by April in Baghdad and to a few
score in the rest of the country. He flatly said the occupation
would be over by the end of 2005, with the remaining coalition
troops left in isolated and well-defended forts."
news of Wolfie's departure, and the Rumsfeld-neocon split
are two of the brightest ornaments on our Christmas tree,
but before we get too excited as we rush to open our presents,
I guess I'll have to play the Grinch by asking if it isn't already too late
to put our hopes in the pragmatists, who let themselves get
pragmatically sucked into the Iraqi quicksands and are now
scrambling desperately to get out.
war, once started, has a momentum and a rhythm all
its own: at any rate, the pace of events is not in American
or British hands, but firmly under the control of the insurgents,
who don't have to win, but only have to survive and persist.
They, after all, aren't going anywhere: we're the foreigners,
bound to leave, sooner or later, taking our culturally specific
ideas of democracy and individual rights along with us. So
they are continually on the offensive, and we are slated to
play defense that is, until we get tired of it and leave,
no longer willing to pay the price, in blood and treasure.
of course the main characteristic of war is that it is chaos:
anything can happen. A battle can spill over a vaguely-defined
border, and spread, engulfing everything in its path. You
can't limit chaos. Once unleashed, it metastasizes, like an
expanding black hole consuming everything in the vicinity.
If we aren't out of Iraq long before "the end of 2005," as
Devine writes, by that time we may have already been through
the streets of Damascus and well on our way to Beirut.
is my last column for the week. We're having a major Christmas
celebration, in spite of our wet blanket government officials.
But I figure this column is long enough to keep my readers
busy at least until Monday. See you then
Please Support Antiwar.com
1017 El Camino Real #306
Redwood City, CA 94063
or Contribute Via our Secure
Credit Card Donation Form
Your contributions are