In a recent column
documenting the alleged hopelessness of dragging the Democratic Party back into
alignment with mainstream America, George Will unwittingly put his finger on
what is soon likely to ail the GOP as well: the impossibility of reconciling
its underlying agenda with the values of the American people.
Will's column draws much inspiration from an essay that appeared in liberal
mainstay The New Republic titled "An
Argument for a New Liberalism," by Peter Beinart, the neocon-left editor
of that magazine. Will says the Democratic base has been "polluted by the
Michael Moore/MoveOn faction" (Moore, Will says, "despises the American
people"). Beinart complains that Moore and MoveOn "do not put the
struggle against America's new totalitarian foe at the center of their hopes
for a better world."
Will/Beinart both take a shot at John Kerry for one of his few winning positions
in the 2004 presidential campaign: "We shouldn't be opening firehouses
in Baghdad and closing them down in our own communities," they quote Kerry
as saying on the stump. According to Will and Beinart, this is "isolationist"
Will then goes on to compare the Democratic Party's current guilt-by-association
troubles to those of the pre-Reagan GOP: "Liberalism's problem with the
Moore/MoveOn faction is similar to conservatism's '60s embarrassment from the
claimed kinship of the John Birch Society, whose leader called President Eisenhower
a Kremlin agent." (The John Birch Society
was and is a Christian-oriented group of anti-Communist
Will congratulates Beinart for his efforts to draw the Democrats away from
their antiwar wing and refocus the party on the threat of "Islamic totalitarianism."
Beinart, says Will, "is bravely trying to do for liberalism what another
magazine editor – National Review's William Buckley – did for conservatism
by excommunicating the Birchers from the conservative movement."
"The nation needs a 1947 liberalism," writes Will, "anti-totalitarian,
but without what Beinart calls the Bush administration's 'near-theological faith
in the transformative capacity of U.S. military might.'"
Will's and Beinart's assessments can thus be fairly summarized as follows:
Those who oppose Washington warmongering from the right are "isolationist"
and beyond the pale, just like the Birchers. Those who oppose Washington warmongering
from the left "despise America" and are also beyond the pale, just
like the Birchers. The patriotic and prudent course for the Democrats, then,
is to follow the example of the neocons, conflate "Islam" with "totalitarianism,"
and encourage the country to unify for a war against "Islamic totalitarianism"
– but without hinting at the "theological faith" (read Christian)
In other words, the Will/Beinart tag team is proposing the sort of divide-and-manipulate
strategy commonly employed by two-party-statist Washington: the Republicans
will hold down the Christian constituency for war, while the Democrats will
take those leaning to the left or hostile to Bush and/or Christianity, and steer
them toward accepting the war by divorcing it from any Christian motive and
adopting an "anti-totalitarian," secularly pious position of official
intolerance toward Islam. Or, using the feel good lefty language Beinart might
employ: "Let's move the destruction of Islam to the center of our hopes
for a better world."
Ponder this for a moment. Will and Beinart think America can go to war under
the anti-totalitarian banner to impose, through force, a system of
government that is highly offensive to the religious sensibilities of the occupied natives. They believe that over time, occupying U.S. forces can eliminate
enough of the opposition to socially engineer the remaining inhabitants into
accepting that system and making it work. And they believe that those who have
been manipulated into paying for all this can be manipulated into cognitively
embracing it if only the intellectual elites who put the plan together work
to steer them in the right direction.
Hey, why not? It worked for the Bolsheviks.
Remember, the Soviets adopted a similar position toward Christians and other
inconvenient elements during their attempts to engineer them away from their
"backward" religious orientation toward the "inevitable"
and "more advanced" system of Communism – a process that included
imprisonment and murder of millions of the Christian faithful and other
dissidents – years before Hitler killed his first victim.
Now some in Washington want to do the same thing to "primitive" and
"barbaric" Islam in the name of the "more advanced" system
As a neocon leftist, Beinart's enthusiasm for using the state to terrorize
a religion into submission is understandable. After all, many on the American
left have long had mixed emotions about the Soviet ambition to erase Christianity
from the face of the earth, and many continue to be hostile
to Christianity today. Beinart's revisionist New Republic essay attempts
to obscure the Communist, Stalinist sympathies that
mainstream Roosevelt Democrats long harbored by admitting there was a powerful
vein within the party that was indeed soft on Communism, which the anti-Communist
Truman Democrats promptly rooted out. He hopes to convince his readers that
those in the anti-Islamic neocon left are the rightful heirs to the anti-Communist
Truman Democrats instead of the flaky, militant Trotkyists they really are.
But coming from the ostensibly conservative George Will, this bizarre and
shameful government-can-play-God fantasy shows just how far beyond any paranoid
conspiracy theories the Birchers ever entertained the
War Party has already gone – and how barren it is of conservative principles.
Unfortunately, Will is far from alone.
Here is what Frank
Gaffney, a contributing editor of National Review Online (yes, the
same National Review that Will celebrates as the guardian of conservative
virtue) has in the way of advice for the Bush administration in setting foreign
"Regime change – one way or another – in Iran and North Korea, the
only hope for preventing these remaining 'Axis of Evil' states from fully realizing
their terrorist and nuclear ambitions;
"Providing the substantially increased resources needed to re-equip
a transforming military and rebuild human-intelligence capabilities … while
we fight World War IV….
"Contending with the underlying dynamic that made France and Germany
so problematic in the first term: namely, their willingness to … thwart the
expansion and application of American power where deemed necessary by Washington….
"Adapting appropriate strategies for contending with China's increasingly
fascistic trade and military policies, Vladimir Putin's accelerating authoritarianism
at home and aggressiveness toward the former Soviet republics, the worldwide
spread of Islamofascism, and the emergence of a number of aggressively anti-American
regimes in Latin America.
"These items do not represent some sort of neocon 'imperialist' game
plan. Rather, they constitute a checklist of the work the world will demand
of this president and his subordinates in a second term."
Apparently, in the universe that George Will, Peter Beinart, Frank Gaffney,
and the other neocons inhabit, to build fire stations in America before building
them in Iraq is "isolationist"; risking the lives of thousands of
American troops for willy-nilly "regime change" and carrying out "World
War IV" is something to be put on a "checklist"; Cold War allies
like France and Germany shouldn't be allowed to in any way thwart the militaristic
ambitions "deemed necessary by Washington"; and wars of religious
extermination should be carried out against "the worldwide spread of Islamofascism."
Oh, and while we're at it, let's put China, Russia, and Latin America on notice,
Is this what passes for "mainstream" in Washington these days? Sadly,
it is. George Will Republicans and the neocons, the pied pipers of the current
Washington establishment, have dressed up a radical, warmongering agenda and
are pulling out all the stops to make it respectable – indeed, to make it appear
to be the only rational course.
While it may be true that left-flank Democrats are completely out of touch
with the average American on social issues, George Will and those in Washington
who have fallen in line behind the neocons' left-totalitarian world view (freedom
and democracy at gunpoint) are completely out of touch with the average American
on the moral issue of war, and it can only be a matter of time before America
The GOP's big November victory has made it drunk with power and blissfully
unaware of how far the Republican Party's manic brain trust continues to drift
from mainstream American sensibilities.
Beinart and others on the neocon-left are encouraging the Democrats to follow
them over the cliff.