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January 25, 2005

Jacobin to the Core


by Paul Craig Roberts

After listening to his inaugural speech, anyone who thinks President Bush and his handlers are sane needs to visit a psychiatrist. The hubris-filled megalomaniac in the Oval Office has promised the world war without end.

Bush's crazy talk has even upset rah-rah Republicans. One Republican called Bush's speech "God-drenched." It has begun to dawn on the formerly Grand Old Party that a bloodless coup has occurred and Republicans have lost their party to Jacobins, who cloak themselves under the term "neoconservatives."

What is a Jacobin? Jacobins ushered in the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. The Jacobins saw themselves as virtuous champions of universalist principles that required them to impose "liberty, equality, fraternity" not merely on France by a reign of terror, but also on the rest of Europe by force of arms.

Unlike America's Founding Fathers, who exhorted their countrymen to cultivate their own garden, Jacobins were not content with revolutionizing France. They were driven to revolutionize the world

President Bush's second inaugural speech is Jacobin to the core. It stands outside the American tradition. Declaring American values to be universalist principles, Bush promised to use American power to spread democracy and to end tyranny everywhere on earth. As one of Bush's neocon puppetmasters, Robert Kagan, approvingly wrote in the Washington Post on Jan. 23, "The goal of American foreign policy is now to spread democracy, for its own sake, for reasons that transcend specific threats. In short, Bush has unmoored his foreign policy from the war on terrorism."

Michael Gerson, the Jacobin White House speechwriter who wrote Bush's infamous "God-drenched speech," defensively insists that Bush's wars will only last "a generation." We can take comfort in that. According to the dictionary, a generation is "about 30 years," so it is only our children and grandchildren who will have to be sacrificed for "Bush's historic mission." Along about 2035 things should be calming down. Whoever remains can begin to attack the $50 trillion national war debt.

Kagan calls America's moral crusade against the world "the higher realism that Bush now proclaims." Gerson declares that Bush's "methods are deeply realistic."

What is realistic about declaring weapons of mass destruction to exist where they do not exist?

What is realistic about assigning blame for Sept. 11 where it does not belong?

What is realistic about destroying a secular state and creating a vast breeding ground for terrorists?

What is realistic about making Osama bin Laden an Islamic hero and shaking the foundations of America's reigning puppets in the Middle East?

What is realistic about declaring a world crusade in the face of evidence that the U.S. cannot successfully occupy Baghdad, a city of only 6 million people, much less Iraq, a country of only 25 million people?

There is nothing realistic about Bush or any of his advisers. The world has not seen such delusion since the Children's Crusade led by a visionary French peasant, Stephen of Cloyes, marched off to free the Holy Land from the Muslims in the year 1212. The children were captured and sold into slavery.

Bush and the Republican Party have morphed into a Jacobin Party. They sincerely believe that they have a monopoly on virtue and the obligation to impose U.S. virtue on the rest of the world. This Jacobin program requires the supremacy of executive power and is dependent on an unwarranted belief in the efficacy of force.

There is nothing American or democratic about this program. Bush speaks as Robespierre when he invokes "a fire in the minds of men" that "warms those who feel its power." Bush possesses Robespierre's "pure conscience" as he destroys Iraq's infrastructure and the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, levels cities, and practices torture. American casualties (dead and wounded) have reached 10 percent of the U.S. occupation force and are but the "realistic methods" Bush uses to achieve his "deeply idealistic" goals.

At home, the casualties are the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Republicans explode in anger when a liberal judge creates a constitutional right. But they sit in silence when the U.S. Department of Justice (sic) creates the right for Bush to decide who has constitutional protections and who does not.

Like Robespierre, Bush justifies the state of terror that he has brought to Iraq by his noble aspirations. The effect is to destroy idealism with hypocrisy about violence. When the neoconservatives succeed in draining idealism of its power, will they then declare violence alone to be their goal?

Led by Bush, the Republican Party now stands for detainment without trial and war without end. It is a party destructive of all virtue and a great threat to life and liberty on earth.


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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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