Tuesday, all will be revealed and all our lingering
doubts stilled. We shall stand in wonder at whatever
New Doctrines the Great Man, who holds the Great Office,
has for us. It is very likely that the new doctrines
will grow out of, and represent bolder statements
of existing doctrines.
I can hardly wait.
In every election cycle of recent
memory I have heard some idiot say that, "the
President is our commander in chief." One certainly
hopes not; it is bad enough that he commands anyone
at all. A related dogma holds that, you may criticize
the man in the Office, but you must love and admire
Thus is one of the great mistakes
of American history – the elective monarchy – sanctified.
Of course I think we should respect the Office, in
the same spirit that one respects the less amiable
kinds of snake. Such respect for the Office is purely
it will be interesting to see what the Great Man has
to say. Why is he a Great Man? – you might well
ask. This follows by definition. The Great Office
raises and sanctifies its sitting lease-holder.
OF DOCTRINE, WINDS OF WAR
we are waiting to hear the newest twists on the "American
Creed," it might be of some interest to look
at a few arguments currently blowing in the idiot
wind. I touch on some top contenders in no particular
WAS THEN, AND THIS IS NOW
doing well on the charts, is "that was then,
and this is now." So what if clever US policy-makers
subsidized, supported, and lionized Saddam Hussein,
and egged him on in his war with Iran? That was then,
and this is now.
I’m happy that interventionists understand the time-flow,
and that they have managed to do so just from looking
at calendars and wristwatches. It saves them from
having to read all those deep essays by Bergson, Wyndham
Lewis, and Heidegger. We are all better off, this
way, even if the neo neos itself and the con cons
Yes, then was then, and now is now.
Of course there is no point in writing history, if
we can’t link the past, however recent, with the present.
Absent such an attempt, what we are left with is the
kind of lawyers’ history, made-to-order, which one
finds, for example, at the American Journal of
International Law, which has hardly ever found
a US intervention it could not defend, provided the
intervention could be suitably clothed in the vestments
of instant international "law" under the
Living U. N. Charter.
Now the reason critics of US policy
bring up the past is that they wish to raise some
For example: Having done so much to
create Saddam Hussein, might the US Government bear
some responsibility for his turning bad and becoming
the New Hitler?
"Not really," say the interventionists,
"that was then. That was the Cold War. You are
not allowed to question anything that happened during
the Cold War."
Well, might the rate at which US lackeys
and foreign employees "go bad" raise fundamental
questions about the presumed cleverness of the State
Department, the Defense Department, and the numerous
post-constitutional covert agencies?
"No," say the interventionists,
"mistakes will happen when you are carrying out
the responsibilities of running the world. There is
no pattern; there cannot be a pattern. History is
all accident tempered by good deeds."
Well, might it not be a mistake to
subsidize, support, and lionize new allies of convenience
in the new struggle against a third-rate power’s alleged
schemes to Conquer the World? Might not some of our
new friends "go bad"?
"No, no, no," say the interventionists,
"the whole thing has to be seen in the Now. From
the perspective of Now, there is no Then, and the
Future is uncertain, but will necessarily be glorious
and good, provided we are allowed to do what we need
"Anyway," they will say,
"Hussein may only want Regional Power. Talk of
World Conquest is a red herring, except when we talk
about it. On the other hand, no state can be permitted
to be a Regional Power, nor may any state even look
like a Regional Power without license from the
"We will not be threatened. There
must be no power that we can’t control! You are for
us or against us."
IS NO ‘BLOWBACK’
popular entry just now is "there is no ‘blowback.’"
Under this notion, all writing to the effect that
there is blowback merely reflects a soon-to-be-illegal
obsession with historical connection, pattern, and
the like. This mania for connecting things springs
from willful refusal to live in the Now and reject
Like their near-cousins in the Frankfurt
School, the interventionists have deep thoughts on
the persistence of refractory elements that deny the
truth of the Now. The sole acceptable causal explanation
of what those with Authoritarian Personalities might
call "blowback" is a dreaded mental disorder
known as "anti-Americanism."
The terrible malady called anti-Americanism
is rooted in envy of American prosperity, resentment
of US power, failure to see that the US has inherited
the mantle of Trotsky’s permanent revolution, as well
as a baffling rejection of the mindlessly vulgar and
stupid phenomena making up American popular "culture."
"Put that T. S. Eliot down, boy,
and listen to some Rap! Eliot was then, and Rap is
now. If we catch you reading those old books again,
it’s rabbit-slaughter soundtrack for you!"
Jawohl, Jam Master Sam.
So take it as given: there can be
no relationship between "anti-Americanism"
and any US actions of any kind, anywhere, at any time,
no sirree, Bob.
Quit reading that article about US
support for the military regime in Indonesia. That
was the Cold War. It had no consequences. So what
if the regime killed 500,000 to a million of their
‘own people’? They must have been COMMUNISTS. Those
events had no impact on any later events. That was
then, this is now. What some folks call ‘blowback’
has no connection with any past. Nowness is all.
MUJAHIDEEN ARE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT FROM THE MUJAHIDEEN
their genial reading, or rather dismissal, of any
kind of history, interventionists have taken to saying,
that mujahideen-then and mujahideen-now are entirely
different. This seems unlikely on the face of it and
contradicts everything I have read on the matter,
but, after all, that was then, etc. Otherwise, one
would have to ask whether in undermining the Soviets
by backing the mujahideen of the first part – many
of whom became the mujahideen of the second part –
clever US operatives lacked foresight.
Clever US policy-makers and operatives
are not required to have foresight. They live and
rule in the Now, and that ought to be good enough
for anybody. They have Good Intentions and all that
they do, they do in the name of the Greatest Country
If the leaders of any other nation
spoke this way, they would stand accused of cheap,
As far as the turban-wearing classes
go, let us take the Neo-Cons’ bait. Let us spend all
our spare time checking our sources to see whether
or not mujahideen past have any connection with mujahideen
present. (I bet they do.) I would, however, like to
be able to bill someone for the wasted time. After
all, the wasted time will offset whatever pleasure
there may be in finding that there is a connection,
and under present conceptions of Universal US Law,
someone should pay reparations.
There are some other costs worth remarking.
Under a more modest notion of US foreign policy –
one that had something to do with defending the actual
country – we wouldn’t have to give so much of a flying
fornication about so many disagreeable foreigners
and their quarrels, nor would we need to work out
their genealogical connections to one another and
the circumstances under which clever US policy-makers
and operatives made their assignations possible by
renting rooms for them, supplying refreshments, and
handing them weapons of some-degree-or-another of
Don’t worry about it, though. Anything
that took place before about 1990 is covered by the
Cold War defense, namely that, the United States only
did Good during the Cold War. That’s it. Any other
view violates the Defense Education Bill of nineteen-whenever.
OF JUST WAR THEORY
popular line of attack involves abuses of Just War
Theory. This is quite old actually, and the manual,
"How to Abuse Just War Theory," is part
of the kit issued to every prospective warmonger at
age six. There was a whole legion of writers that
worked out the details in time for the Cold War.
All you had to do was trot out the
seven points or so of traditional Just War Theory,
throw in a few obligatory quotes from Reinhold Niebuhr,
bend current facts to fit the terms of the theory,
and – presto! – the possible slaughter of 80-100 million
Russians was entirely just, indeed admirable, and
Sts. Augustine and Aquinas sent their approval. This
version of just war theory is kept in every warmonger’s
desk for instant deployment whenever the exigencies
of the empire demand it.
Recent uses of the Cold War version
of Just War Theory show little improvement or development,
as witnessed in the recent All-War issue of Intercollegiate
Review. All the latest wave does, as far as I
can see, is to raise anew the question of whether
Just War Theory has any legitimate use at all, under
modern conditions. On this, opinions differ.
– THE UNNECESSARY CREED
far I have not given much space here to "libertarians"
noted for their support of the much-anticipated war
with Iraq. This is because liberventionism is not
a philosophy and it is not a systematic presentation
of anything. Its derivative nature is tattooed on
its forehead and other places popular in the present
a handful of "libertarians" want to support
the forthcoming festivities, they can only do so at
the price of ceasing to be libertarians of any kind.
Their ongoing claim to the label is merely a species
of intellectual fraud or theft. It is hard to know
if any of these people ever were libertarians. Certainly
they are rapidly converging with plain imperialists,
warmongers, and "conservatives" in thrall
to the Neos.
Cast your net wide enough, and you
can phony up a pedigree for anything, I guess. This
explains, finally, the popularity of the epithet "classical
liberal" in sell-out circles. If libertarianism
is just another word for classical liberalism and
if every 19th-century liberal is a proto-libertarian,
then, sure, you can quickly assemble a bunch of warmongers
and interventionists and announce that they are the
ancestors of liberventionism.
On this basis, J. S. Mill and William
Gladstone begat Woodrow Wilson, and so on down the
line, until adherence to the advanced welfare-warfare
state, world empire, and bunker-busting nuclear weapons
becomes the essence of libertarianism, suitably understood.
Just complain about marginal details of the welfare
state once a year, and you, too, can be as "libertarian"
as the editors of National Review.
The fact that libertarianism carried
forward part of the heritage of classical liberalism
while repudiating the mistakes and sell-outs
of historical liberals is left to one side. The liberventionists’
self-assimilation to an incoherent heap of liberal
spare parts allows them to embrace statism with minimal
embarrassment. Thus they weld the rusty muffler of
absurd social contract theory to the exhaust pipe
of war and blow smoke at everyone within range. We
are already witnessing the arrival of "libertarian"
Jaffaites and other monsters from the deep.
Liberventionism is thus not a creed
but a maneuver; the appeal to an internally
incoherent 19th-century liberalism is mere
There is a clue here, however. If
libertarianism is merely "liberalism" and
if the highest form of liberalism is Jacobinism, then
clearly the Good may kill the Bad out of hand, any
day of the week, using whatever nuclear bunker-busters,
microwave death rays, and so on, our famously "science-based
civilization" has made available. And pigs may
fly – given enough genetic engineering.
A CAUSE WHOSE ‘TRIUMPHS’ WILL BE VERY COSTLY INDEED
eleven years ago, Mr. Charles Krauthammer fretted
aloud about the horrors which would accompany American
of the Left, he said, opposed US intervention because
they thought it corrupted the world. Those of the
Right opposed intervention because they thought it
The lesson to be drawn is that both
schools were right. The US empire, now testing its
strength, if not its popularity, corrupts America
and the world. Why this is held to be a good thing,
I cannot say.