And Balaam rose up in the morning and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
And God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way and his sword drawn in his hand. And the ass turned aside out of the way and went into the field, and Balaam smote the ass to turn her into the way.
— Numbers 22:21-23
America is in peril. A grim specter from yesteryear stalks the land, threatening to starve hardworking defense contractors. Our current wars might be snuffed out before they reach drinking age, and a potential intervention or two might even be aborted.
Trembling yet? You should be, because isolationism is back, and it’s haunting the halls of our capital. All those American bullets, missiles, and drones whizzing about might have lulled you into thinking that everything was fine, but top analysts say otherwise. Two honchos at Freedom House fret:
The debate about America’s world role recently has taken a disturbing direction. Prominent figures in both parties – including a number of the announced Republican presidential hopefuls – have anchored their rhetoric on demands for American withdrawal from various conflict zones and from international engagement generally.
Voices on the political margins – Dennis Kucinich on the left and Rand Paul on the right – are increasingly echoed by figures from the mainstream. Even President Obama has succumbed to the prevailing mood with his unfortunate June reference to “nation building here at home.”
Disturbing! And there’s more:
The isolationism that is gaining momentum is especially pernicious given the prospects for political change in the greater Middle East. If there is an issue where vigorous American leadership and American interests are organically related, it is the contemporary struggle for democracy in the Arab world.
And if there is one place where “vigorous American leadership” is roundly trusted and desired, it is surely the Arab world. But back to those “unfortunate” calls for “nation building here at home.” In June, Christopher Hitchens sniffed out that trend and tore it apart:
This [John Edwards’ lack of sexual sophistication, or something] is dispiriting. But not as small-time and small-minded as the recent line adopted, from Dennis Kucinich to John Boehner and by the National Conference of Mayors, to the effect that any expenditure overseas is a theft from the good people of Waterloo (or, if you insist, Winterset), Iowa. You have heard it: A bridge or a well in Kandahar is one less facility for our hurting heartland. We should be tending to business in our own backyards.
Hitchens will have none of that. What is it with these hicks from Cleveland and Bowling Green and West Chester Township and Waterloo and their sub-constant enthusiasm for shrapnel-ready projects? By the way, Waterloo is the hometown of Hitchens’ latest hate crush, Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann enraged Hitchens by “pathetically advocating that we leave Col. Qaddafi alone”:
For Bachmann to choose this moment to say that the loony of Libya poses no threat is to disqualify herself from any consideration for high office.
Indeed. As Hitchens said elsewhere in the same article,
We need candidates who know about laboratories, drones, trade cycles, and polychrome conurbations both here and overseas.
Especially the drones, because those mobile laboratories of democracy can be used to liberate polychrome conurbations overseas, which will, in turn, raise morale here during the contraction phase of the trade cycle. Everybody wins, so long as the isolationists don’t.
But I’m not too worried about Michele Bachmann slowing down the perpetual-war machine that Hitchens and friends have worked so hard to maintain. Apparently, Frank Gaffney has her ear, and I trust that, whip in hand, he will dispel any reservations about empire from her silly little head.