then French posturing against the United States should never
be taken very seriously. According to French Foreign Minister,
Hubert Vedrine, democracy could not be imposed on countries.
"The bottom line is that in Western countries the thinking
is that democracy is like religion and that all you have
to do is convert people," he explained. The French
Embassy issued a statement declaring democracy to be "not
a matter which allows sweeping generalizations….The specifics
of each case should be taken into consideration." Banal
platitudes like these invariably pass for profundities in
the Qui d'Orsay. In insightfulness, they are on a par with
fulminations about America as the "hyperpower"
or the curse of the Big Mac. None the less the hideous harridan
of Foggy Bottom made a show of defensiveness: "We did
not come to Warsaw to impose democracy for that is a contradiction
in terms. Dictators impose; democracy is chosen….Nor is
democracy a religion but it is a faith that has lifted the
lives of people in every corner of the globe."
the story for the children, eagerly lapped up by the media.
Democracy versus Realpolitik; New World versus Old
World; idealism versus cynicism. In reality, of course,
French and American foreign policies are indistinguishable.
France is America's junior partner in the establishment
of a US-dominated Western empire. In fact, France, like
some neurotic little pup, is even more eager than the United
States to intervene everywhere in the world. For years it
has been hankering to return to Africa. France has been
an eager participant in the destruction of Yugoslavia. Just
last week, it joined the United States in banning the Yugoslavia's
UN envoy from taking part in the UN Security Council debate
on the Balkans. France rails at Russia's use of force in
Chechnya. France condemns Peru's Fujimori even more vehemently
than Washington. And so on.
enough, the fraudulence of this supposed clash among the
Western powers was shown up by one of Washington's most
ardent champions of empire. Writing
in the Washington Post, Robert Kagan poured scorn
on the conference: "The democratic world has become
a bit flaccid and is in a more forgiving mood than it was
a decade ago….[P]romoting democracy where it doesn't exist?
Setting off a Fourth Wave? That's not part of the agenda….Attendees
include such notable democracies as Algeria, Egypt, Kenya
and Yemen." Exactly. The United States is no more in
the business of promoting democracy than France is. The
whole point of a conference like this is to create not a
community of democracies, but a community of client-states.
Those who attend become eligible for American largesse:
A World Bank loan; an IMF credit facility; a grant from
the NED or the USIA; removal of the odd tariff; help with
securing investment; and if all else fails a Presidential
visit. The French do not have as much money to throw around
as the Americans. So they get a little peeved. But, thanks
to the European Union, they will soon be in the big-time
the French did not exist, they would have to be invented.
There is nothing US policymakers not to mention the denizens
of Washington's little magazines and think tanks love to
talk about more than the promotion of democracy. In reality,
of course, US foreign policy has never not even under Woodrow
Wilson been about making the world safe for democracy. Whenever
national interests dictated, the United States did not hesitate
to align itself with the most unsavory dictators around.
To be sure, Washington often discarded them once they outlived
their usefulness. Noriega, Somoza, Duvalier, Marcos, Diem,
Suharto, Muhammad Shah Pahlavi, were all victims of a change
of priorities in Washington. Such ruthless abandonment of
former close pals is what "neo-conservatives"
often mean by "promoting democracy." Championing
"democracy" it used to be "human rights" enables
liberals to justify bombing, starvation, overthrowing legitimate
governments. Republicans have no problems with the policy.
They just hate the talk of "democracy" to justify
it. They much prefer the soothing sounds of pennies accumulating
in the bank. Republicans want to bomb a country to make
it safe for US investment. Democrats want to bomb it to
make it safe for American-style democracy. The policy is
the same. The consequences are the same.
is why Republicans have always ended up supporting Democratic
interventions. It is why elections are so tedious. To the
individual actors involved, who wields power in Washington
is all-important. US elections are endlessly fascinating
to the tiny coterie of journalist, lobbyists and politicians,
but of no interest whatsoever to the rest of us. Every four
years, the candidates hurl abuse at one another. Whoever
wins ends up pursuing the same policy as the one who lost
would have done. The Bush Administration sponsored the breakup
of Yugoslavia, recognizing the Moslem-dominated state of
Bosnia. Candidate Clinton attacked Bush for being insufficiently
pro-Moslem. Candidate George W. attacks the Clinton Administration
for not waging war against the Serbs ferociously enough.
Candidate Clinton attacked George W.'s father for coddling
the "Butchers of Beijing." Today, George W. attacks
Clinton for not caring enough about human rights in China
and not doing enough for Taiwan.
there is something sinister going on in this election. Gore
and his acolytes in the media are so desperate to win that
they are willing to silence all debate on the desirability
of the US Empire. Recently, Al Gore attacks George W. for
allegedly being unwilling to "intervene to relieve
even the brutal repression of ethnic cleansing and genocide."
this despite Bush's shameful support for Clinton's
bombing caper last year. The New Republic, now little
more than a Gore campaign handout, has come up with an ingenious
way of attacking George W. Bush. Though there is not the
slightest evidence for it, the magazine is trying to show
that Bush or the people around him are opponents
of American interventionism. Moreover, they are motivated
by hatred of America and the conviction that America is
in decline. It is difficult to convey fully the scurrilous
nature of Lawrence
Kaplan's recent New Republic article. How contemptible
this magazine has become was apparent from the heading that
went with the piece. "Guess who hates America?,"
it asked. Answer: "Conservatives." To suggest
that if you do not support US Government policy you "hate
America" is about the lowest one can descend to. Lawrence
Kaplan's is a style of writing that we have become familiar
with from the "neo-conservatives." He sticks suggestive,
slanderous labels on people he disagrees with, as if he
had thereby demonstrated the erroneous nature of their thinking.
In the past, we have seen terms like "Anti-Semitic"
and "isolationist" being used like this. Kaplan
adds "declinist" and "pessimist" to
the repertoire. "Declinism," he explains, is a
way of thinking engaged in by "tough-minded foreign
policy 'realists', conservatives in the Kissingerian mold
who have somehow managed to locate in one of history's most
lopsided victories the seeds of an even greater defeat."
It is based on hostility "toward the American idea
itself." Kaplan offers no evidence to support his sweeping
statements. Though it is evident that his argument is little
more than tautology. Since he defines the American in a
particular and tendentious fashion, Those who disagree with
him must, therefore, be hostile to the "American idea."
And just who are these terrible "declinists,"
Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington is one. Then there is
Robert D. Kaplan "credited by the media with…persuading
President Clinton to delay US intervention in Bosnia. (Texas
Governor George W. Bush, too, claims Kaplan at the top of
his reading list.)" Now, in the first place there is
something repellent about mentioning a distinguished political
scientist like Huntington in the same breath as an ignorant
fraud like Robert Kaplan. Second, Kaplan has always been
an ardent supporter of US intervention in the Balkans.