In 1989, State Department planner Francis Fukuyama
wrote his now-famous, seminal essay "The
End of History." In it, he argued that humanity had reached "an
endpoint in its ideological evolution" and capitalist liberal democracy
would be the inevitable, worldwide status quo in the not-too-distant future.
Post-9/11 America, mired in conflict with stubborn "militant
Islam," seemingly brought the pretentious assumptions of the Fukuyama
school of history crashing down. But the hubris and arrogance manifested in
Fukuyama's premise is with us still, in some ways more than ever. The difference
is that today, rather than an organic historical evolution (which is how Fukuyama
foresaw a capitalist liberal democracy coming into primacy), the Washington
elite who subscribe to Fukuyama's way of thinking want to bring about a world
patterned on America not by example, but by
In order to do this, hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops would be required.
But right now, capitalist liberal democracy is having an increasingly difficult
time recruiting enough soldiers willing to fight and die just to cover Iraq,
let alone the entire Middle East.
"The Iraq war marks the first test of the all-volunteer U.S. military
during a protracted war, and Army officials have conceded that all three components
of the Army likely will miss their recruiting goals for fiscal 2005, which ends
Sept. 30. … It has not missed an annual recruiting goal since 1999."
After the Sept. 11 assault, alleged
to be an attack on our entire way of life, at a level of severity equal
to Pearl Harbor, supposedly an existential
threat to America, how can this be? Is it because Americans now know Iraq
had no connection whatsoever to 9/11 and believe we were misled
into war, or is something else at play?
"Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went
to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the
Marine Reserve to talk to his parents. It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb
north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted
him wearing an American flag T-shirt. 'I want you to know we support you,' she
"[But] Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.
"'Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people,'
she told him."
Washington Post columnist Terry Neal thought Kelly's anecdote raised
some interesting questions:
"There has been much talk about the relationship between race and ethnicity
and military recruitment. But what about social and economic class? Are wealthier
Americans, who are more likely to be Republicans and therefore more likely to
support the war, stepping up to the plate and urging their children and others
from their communities to enlist?
"Unfortunately, there has been no definitive study on this subject.
But it appears that the affluent are not encouraging their children and peers
to join the war effort on the battlefield."
In Andrew Bacevich's recent book, The
New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, the author
discusses how in the past, the perceived connection between Christian values
and the U.S. armed services aided in recruiting soldiers to serve the American
cause. This perception was fostered mainly by evangelicals, and a bond was formed
between them and the military during the Cold War.
"In a decadent and morally confused time, [evangelicals] came to celebrate
the military itself as [a] bastion of the values required to stem the nation's
slide toward perdition," Bacevich says.
Since then, the union has been consummated through tribulations like the first
Gulf War and, presumably, the current Iraq one.
"Conservative Christians have conferred a presumptive moral palatability
on any occasion on which the United States resorts to force," writes Bacevich.
"They have fostered among the legions of believing Americans a predisposition
to see U.S. military power as inherently good…."
Of course, in the run-up to the Iraq war, conservative Christians and many
in the media were on the same, pro-war side, and so the media itself also
fostered among the legions a predisposition to see the use of force as good.
But the perception that nearly all evangelicals (and most Christians) were fully
behind the effort to remove Saddam and invade and occupy Iraq became the conventional
President Bush encouraged this perception when, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks,
the putative war on terror as a "crusade." He later retracted his
use of the "C" word, but since then, he has invoked religious language
in his war advocacy so often that even some Bush supporters have called his
(It is no coincidence that Mike Gerson, an evangelical Christian and former
theology student, has been the
principal author of many of Bush's most important speeches.)
In theory, then, American Christians should by now have been primed by the
media, the pro-war evangelists, and Washington politicians to sign on to the
Bush crusade to "remake"
the Middle East.
But were Christians really ever fully onboard our latest Middle Eastern foray?
Were even the vast majority of evangelicals? Or, like the belief that Saddam
had WMDs and was tied to 9/11, was the perception that Christians overwhelmingly
supported the Iraq war a construct of the War
Party's imagination that was turned into a "reality" through media
repetition and manufactured "evidence"?
A February 2005 posting
on Media Matters for America, a liberal
watchdog group that tracks "conservative misinformation" widely disseminated
in the media, recorded the following:
"Reverend Jerry Falwell erroneously denied that many evangelicals opposed
the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Appearing opposite Sojourners editor-in-chief
Reverend Jim Wallis on the February 11 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes,
Falwell called Wallis's claim that 'evangelicals around the world were against
the war in Iraq' 'baloney' and remarked: 'You could fit your [antiwar evangelical]
crowd in a phone booth.' …
"In fact, many evangelical leaders openly opposed the Iraq war, and
a March 2003 poll
by the Pew Research Center indicated that although most American evangelicals
supported removing Saddam Hussein from power, less than half 'favored the use
of force if our major allies did not want to join us.'"
The relevant section of the Pew poll cited by Media Matters said that "for
many people, support for war was contingent upon the U.S. assembling a coalition
of major allies. Even among white evangelicals, less than a majority – 48 percent
– favored the use of force if our major allies did not want to join us; this
view was shared by 43 percent of white mainline Protestants, 37 percent of white
Catholics, and 33 percent of secular respondents."
Majorities of nonwhite racial groups have also polled
against the war.
But this was never emphasized much in the American media. Instead, they either
ignored Christian opposition altogether, or focused like tabloids on militant
Christians like Falwell who were drooling over the prospect of war, and on Bush's
call for a crusade. A serious examination of the issue, which might have derailed
the war, was never undertaken.
Because of their successes in finessing the issue, the pro-war factions from
both sides of America's narrow mainstream political and media spectrum may have
assumed that the same public that was stampeded into war could be stampeded
into military recruiting centers as well. But it hasn't happened.
As left-wing columnist Molly Ivins has observed:
"[Americans] are a practical people and often quite shrewd. That means
knowing when to cut our losses."
We know why the Falwells of the world wanted the war. As Bacevich indicated,
many in the evangelical leadership see an American clash with other ideologies
as an opportunity to rally Americans around their ministry.
But why were the media so gung-ho for war? Indeed, why was so much of the Washington
establishment? To find out, Americans have followed the money – and the ideologues.
In a review of Bacevich's book for Chronicles
magazine, Jerry Woodruff, editor of Middle
American News, touches upon how each hoped to benefit from an American
invasion and occupation of Iraq:
"Proponents of the new militarism see America's war on Iraq as an effort
to establish an invincible force in the Middle East, resulting in a new political
order in the center of the Persian Gulf. Policed by the United States, that
new order will help pacify the region and guarantee uninterrupted oil supplies,
while enforcing acceptance of a Jewish state in the Islamic Arab world. In Bacevich's
view, the events of September 11, 2001 merely enhanced the progressive militarization
of U.S. policy."
So in addition to opportunistic evangelists, add to the list of powerful pro-war
constituencies business interests hoping to protect their profit margins by
ensuring the flow of oil to domestic markets, and Zionists whose primary motive
is the defense of Israel. On top of that, of course, there are myriad U.S. military
contractors. And the media grease the skids for them all.
As Woodruff noted, Bacevich believes 9/11 merely accelerated the militarization
of existing U.S.
policies in the Middle East. As we now know, 9/11 was a backlash
against those very policies. In theory, then, the attacks should have
immediately triggered a wholesale reassessment of the thinking that led to them.
But they didn't. Instead, the Machiavellian authors of those policies managed
to capitalize on the blowback
by using it as an excuse to dig us even deeper. The Iraq quagmire is just the
latest disastrous example of where a government firmly in the grip of ideologues
and special interests run amok will lead us.
Today, Americans have apparently concluded (and perhaps suspected all along)
that our Middle Eastern intervention is more a massive government program tailor-made
for a relatively small group of special interest elites than a "war on
Whether these ideologues are pushing their war against "Islamofascist"
bogeymen in order to scapegoat Muslims for the consequences of Washington's
insane foreign policy,
or to protect big business' profit margins, or to perpetuate Israel's iron-fisted
rule over the "threat" posed by stateless Palestinians, the Iraq war
has demonstrated that such schemes are destined to blow up in the faces of those
who are commanded to carry them out – which is why parents across the U.S. refuse
to allow their children to sign on to the charade.
"Recruiters say parents increasingly don't want their sons and daughters
to join the military and risk combat service. Many are becoming more militantly
anti-military. And age isn't always the issue. Recruits who are 20, 25, even
28, sometimes express interest in joining the armed services, only to back out
after their parents object," reports
the San Francisco Chronicle.
Militantly anti-military? Shrewd people that they are, Americans recognize
that it's one thing to allow the special interests to lash out at their enemies,
but it's quite another to let it use their children to do so.
Cindy Sheehan is one mother who let her guard down just long enough to give
the War Party time to get its hooks
in her son. Thankfully, the Bush administration is now learning that hell hath