The Malleable World of the Neo Cons
The Crisis Papers
February 20, 2007
“A hegemon is nothing more or less than a leader with preponderant influence and authority over all others in its domain. That is
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, the
Not the neo conservatives.
Instead, they announced, this was to be “The American Century” – a “benevolent global hegemony” imposed upon the world by the sole remaining super-power, the
The United States would, in short, become the kind of world empire we claimed that we were struggling, throughout the cold war, to prevent the Soviet Union from becoming.
Much of this neo con program has been implemented by the Bush administration. The test-ban and anti-ballistic missile treaties have been abrogated, along with the Geneva Conventions against torture and the Nuremberg Accords forbidding unprovoked war. The
In August 2002, General Tommy Franks gathered a few of his senior officers, and together they predicted what
But the spectacular failure of these rosy predictions should not surprise us. For at about the same time, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney were assuring us that the overthrow of Saddam would be a “cakewalk,” and that we would be “greeted as liberators,” with flowers and sweets. The cost of “Operation Iraqi Liberation” (O.I.L.) (oops, make that “Operation Iraqi Freedom”), we were told, would be paid for by oil revenues.
Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way, did it? And why not? Many explanations have been offered. Among these: incredibly poor management by unqualified party hacks, failure to plan for the post-war occupation, failure to involve the Iraqis in the reconstruction. To be sure, all these factors and more have led to the appalling mess that is
By a “mind set” I mean assumptions that might be so far in the background of the neo cons thinking and planning that they are scarcely aware of them. These assumptions become apparent, not in what the neo cons say, but in how they act.
Three of these “mind set assumptions,” I suggest, are especially significant:
The world beyond the
We Americans know what’s best for the peoples of the world beyond our borders. And what is best for them is that they be just like us. Thus they should gratefully accept our bestowal of “truth, justice and The American Way.” The neo cons see themselves as “missionaries to the heathen” – the “little people” desperately in need of enlightenment and salvation, whether they want it or not. (Perhaps this is what Bush had in mind when he carelessly called the “war on terror” a “crusade”). Thus we find “Viceroy” Paul Bremer imposing a pre-formed libertarian “paradise” upon the Iraqis, complete with unregulated free markets, the privatization of public properties, and the abolition of all vestiges of the pre-existing “socialism.”
“Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.” If the people of any nation abroad resist our “benevolent global hegemony,” this will be of no consequence, since our overwhelming military power will guarantee the endurance of our “hegemony,” and will prevent the rise of a rival global power.
All three assumptions are profoundly false, as we are discovering each day as the PNAC dream unravels.
The World can respond, unexpectedly and effectively. When King George III dispatched the Howe brothers (General William and Admiral Richard) to crush the rebellion in the American colonies, they expected that standard European military tactics would defeat the rebels. And so they did at the first encounter in Long Island when
No greater error can be committed in war or in peace, than to presume that one’s opponent will respond exactly as one expects them to respond. Yet, as one reads the manifestos and publications of the neo cons, one is struck by how little speculation is found therein as to how the “others” might respond to the “benevolent global hegemony.”
One often hears from the supporters of Missile Defense, the challenge: “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we develop as system that will destroy incoming strategic missiles?” The answer is simple: the moon is passive, while a strategic enemy is reactive and resourceful. The moon did not actively attempt to foil the Apollo landing. But any and all improvements in missile defense will result in countermeasures in the missile offense, and the offense has insurmountable advantages.
The people in other nations are the best judge of what is “good for them.” This is a lesson learned by most freshman students of cultural anthropology. Why it evades the notice of the well educated neo cons is a mystery.
Once again, history is a guide: Attempts from outside a culture to improve the lives within that society, however well intentioned those attempts might be, can have disastrous consequences if the culture and history of the “beneficiary” people are not carefully studied and taken into account. And it is doubtful that the interventions of the neo cons are either “well intentioned” or well informed.
Put simply: while the “golden rule” is an excellent guide for conduct within one’s culture, a more appropriate variant for dealing with other cultures and peoples might be: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” This rule requires that the “outsider” be well aware of what “they would have you do unto them.”
“But haven’t American political ideals and culture been widely accepted throughout the world?” Indeed, they have – from national constitutions patterned after ours, to blue jeans and rock and roll. But these cultural importations succeed best when the people within the society decide on their own to accept them and integrate them into their culture. Attempts to force alien ideas and customs upon a society can have disastrous consequences, as missionaries and conquerors throughout history have learned.
Neo cons will tell us that they are trying to “spread democracy and freedom” abroad. (“Freedom is on the march.” G. W. Bush).
This is a cruel hoax, as is evident when one looks past the word to the deeds. There one finds that the “freedom” of the neo cons, is a freedom to exploit, to seize a nation’s resources, and to reap enormous profits with the connivance of the
As for “democracy,” the neo cons are pleased to see nations abroad hold free elections, so long as these elections select candidates that the neo cons approve of. But if the neo cons don’t approve, then they will not hesitate to “correct” the voters’ “errors.” Consider, for example, the overthrow of Salvadore Allende in
To this day, I cannot think of one authentic democracy that has been established through the implementation of neo con foreign policy. Can you?
The Iraqis responded to these abuses exactly as we would in such circumstances; they rose up in a struggle to drive out the occupiers and to take back their country.
Despite its military might, the
But more significantly, the American “hegemon” can be defeated without a shot being fired. As I have argued elsewhere (The Vulnerable Giant), beneath the bombast and bluster of the American military lies a pitifully week economic structure. More than half of our eight trillion dollar national debt is in foreign hands (mostly
True, this would create chaos and hardship in the world economy, but grave threats can call for extreme remedies.
Put bluntly, we can be assured that “the world” will not submit to a “Pax Americana” – an American “benevolent global hegemony.” Not when the nations abroad take note of how American political ideals have been compromised and even abolished by the neo con Bush administration, and how this administration has treated American citizens and captured foreigners.
The nations abroad will not stand for this. And they need not stand for this. If the neo con arrogance, threats and bullying become intolerable, the community of nations can, in concert, demolish the American economy and reduce the
Hopefully, before that terrible tipping point is reached, the American public will at last wake up, regain its lost liberties, restore the Constitution, and renounce the imperial ambitions of the neo cons.
It is just possible that the sleeping giant is beginning to stir, and that a counter-revolution is afoot.
Let us hope that it is not too little and too late.
Copyright 2007 by Ernest Partridge