was in California last weekend speaking at the Second Annual
Antiwar.com Conference. Started in 1995 by two young Californians
Justin Raimondo and Eric Garris as a website dedicated to
resisting the American empire, Antiwar.com now easily outshines
the dreary foreign policy mags filled with the self-important
vacuities of the Washington apparat.
conference theme was "Beyond Left and Right" and
for a good reason. When it comes to imperialism, there is
much that left and right can agree on. Imperialism means
government repression at home, violations of international
law abroad, the exploitation of the weak by the strong and
the destruction of different national cultures and traditions.
Speakers ranged from Patrick Buchanan to my New York
Press colleague Alexander Cockburn. Other participants
included Chronicles editor Thomas Fleming, Texas
Rep. Ron Paul, former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia
James Bissett and Lenora Fulani. This was no "neoconservative"
gathering where speakers outdid one another in their abject
groveling at the feet of "neoconservative" elders.
Nor was this some corporate-funded Establishment get-together
where the assorted Brzezinskis and Eagleburgers argue about
whom to bomb next and where to make a buck (the two activities
are usually one and the same). There were no lavish banquets
at the Hyatt. Antiwar.com lives off contributions from not
terribly wealthy individuals who fear a U.S. government
that professes so much benevolence, yet acts with so much
one in public life can match Pat Buchanan in eloquence on
the subject of American imperialism. "A seething resentment
of America is brewing all over the world," he declared,
"and the haughty attitude of our foreign policy elite
only nurses the hatred. Hearken, if you will, to the voice
of our own Xena, Madeleine Albright: If we have to
use force it is because we are America. We are the indispensable
nation. We stand tall. We see farther into the future.
Now I count myself an American patriot. But if this Beltway
braggadocio about being the worlds indispensable
nation has begun to grate on me, how must it grate
upon the Europeans, Russians, and peoples subject to our
sanctions because they have failed, by our lights, to live
up to our standards?" Buchanan spoke of "hubris,"
"arrogance of power," "triumphalism,"
"Americas Brezhnev Doctrine," but he did
not get into whats behind this mad rush for empire.
Cockburn had an answer, one that had been put forward more
than 80 years ago by V.I. Lenin. Capitalism leads to imperialism.
And, imperialism, in turn, leads to war.
economic explanations have much to commend them. U.S. foreign
policy exists to promote "market democracy." By
"market democracy," the U.S. means a state that
imposes no restrictions on the free flow of capital and
goods from the U.S. The United States bombs and starves
countries in order to make them safe for foreign investment.
Recently Thomas Miller, the U.S. ambassador to Bosnia, was
spluttering in outrage that there were still no McDonalds
in Sarajevo. "If you cant get McDonalds
into a country you cant get anything into a country,"
he mused. "I really do hope that well all be
eating McDonalds burgers by this fall."
the Caucasus, the United States is setting up satellite
states, the better to plunder the oil riches of the Caspian.
"Market democracy" there means being on the payroll
of Bechtel, General Electric, Chevron and BP Amoco. Will
this lead to war with Russia? Probably. Meanwhile, the bombing
of Iraq goes on without remission. Sanctions remain in place
with no one asking whyvaguely we recall some talk
of "weapons of mass destruction." Yet Scott Ritter,
former chief weapons inspector for UNSCOM, has said that
"Iraq has been disarmed. Iraq today possesses no meaningful
weapons of mass destruction capability." In any case,
if there is one thing Saddam Hussein has learned its
that you need "weapons of mass destruction" to
survive in the world. Whoever rules in Baghdad will now
be more determined than ever to get the Bomb. "Sanctions
are the leverage the international community has to get
the government of Iraq to comply" with its demands
to disarm, U.S. Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham told
the UN Security Council. By "international community,"
he means what Washington policymakers usually mean by the
term: the U.S., its faithful poodle Great Britain and no