Arrogance and Hypocrisy in U.S. Foreign Policy

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Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States...

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President Obama has chosen to lecture Egyptian President Mubarak on the issue of human rights. This is another instance of American arrogance and hypocrisy, as traditional conservatives such as Pat Buchanan and libertarians such as Ron Paul, as well as some on the left, have pointed out. The U.S. has a shameful history of violation of rights and, regarding the American Indians, genocide. The U.S. Army engaged in brutal tactics during the Philippine War in the early twentieth century. In World War II, the U.S. forced thousands of Japanese-American citizens into what de facto were concentration camps–the fact that they were not as brutal as the German camps does not make what the United States did morally right. The U.S. engaged in saturation bombing of Tokyo in March 1945, killing over 100,000 people with the firestorm created from gasoline-laden bombs. The U.S. is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in combat. The U.S. and its allies, violating centuries of just war theory, demanded unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers in World War II. In Vietnam there were multiple instances of abuse by U.S. Army personnel against the Vietnamese people; Lt. Calley’s unit was not the only one to engage in rape or kill civilians. In Iraq and Afghanistan, torture was the official practice of U.S. military intelligence personnel as well as regular army personnel. The U.S. has not eschewed the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict–not even with President Obama in power. And domestically, neither the FBI nor the ATF have clean human rights records, as FBI surveillance of American citizens and the ATF disasters at Ruby Ridge and Waco show. Now many countries engage in similar behaviors or worse–it may be the case, as blind patriots claim, that the U.S. has a better record on human rights than most other countries. But this does not justify our actions, nor does it justify the arrogance of President Obama in telling Mr. Mubarak how to run his country, especially since democracy in the Middle East tends to lead to radical Islamists coming into power. Perhaps Mr. Obama (and Mrs. Clinton) would prefer the Muslim Brotherhood to gain power in Egypt. If that happens, the powerkeg that is the Near East may explode.

In addition, U.S. policy holds that democracy is the best form of government for all nations. But as Aristotle recognized in his Politics, the best form of government for any state is going to depend on its history and traditions. But the U.S. continues to follow the neo-Puritanism of Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy and try to export “democracy” to the world–at the same time democracy is dying a slow death in the U.S. The rest of the world sees U.S. hypocrisy and hates us for it. The U.S. can do better than this–it can clean up its own house and avoid sticking its nose into every other country’s business. I hope such reform happens–but the secularist Puritan strand in American foreign policy is ingrained that I am pessimistic. We need more Ron Pauls, more Pat Buchanans, more true liberals such as Nat Hentoff, to join together in an effort to both stop U.S. abuses of human rights and also to encourage a “more humble” (as President G. W. Bush said in his pre-911 days) U.S. foreign policy.

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Advice to the Tea Party Movement–Don’t Let the Warmongers Win

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Tea Party Movement/ American People's Protest ...

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There are a growing number of individuals in the Tea Party movement who are moving toward the traditional conservative position of American staying out of foreign entanglements unless such are clearly in the national interest of the United States. But there are two groups who aim to stop this trend.

The first group is a subset of the Tea Party movement–Evangelical Christians who, influenced by Biblical apocalyptic imagery, support every American intervention in the Near East as bringing about a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. As I have argued elsewhere in this blog, their position is based on a flawed interpretation of the Book of Revelation and other apocalyptic Biblical literature. Sarah Palin may have been influenced by this line of thought, as evidenced by her tendency to blindly support Israel. Let’s hope that her common sense kicks in and that she does not move the Tea Party movement into a warmongering direction.

The other group threatens the Tea Party from the outside–the Neoconservatives. These individuals are the ideological descendants of a group of former Trotskyte Marxists who later defected from Marxism to the Democratic Party. These virulent anticommunists teamed up with Hubert Humphrey and Henry “Scoop” Jackson during the 1960s. But in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, culmulating with the Democratic nomination going to George McGovern in 1972, these anticommunist liberals turned against the Democratic Party. They joined the Republican Party in droves and, over time, gained influence in the National Review and other conservative publications. They retained their basic liberal orientation on domestic economic issues, supporting the post-Roosevelt, post-Lyndon Johnson welfare state, although some of them tend to be more conservative on social issues such as abortion. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard is a neoconservative, as are Charles Krauthammer, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Bennett, and to some extent Newt Gingrich. These individuals have supported the free spending of the welfare state, and have also supported the notion of the United States as an empire. They have accepted the Wilsonian view that the United States should spread democracy to the world. Iraq is an example of the disaster that can occur when neoconservative doctrine becomes U.S. policy.

The neoconservatives almost destroyed President Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal, and they succeeded in destroying the administration of George W. Bush. Their destructive doctrine of the “noble lie,” borrowed from Leo Strauss who in turn borrowed it from Plato, states that the ruling elite can lie to the general public so the public will support their “wise” policies. Does this make the lies about “weapons of mass destruction” more understandable?

The neoconservatives have recently attacked the tendency in the Tea Party movement that backs off from the “American Empire” model of U. S. foreign policy. The neocons sharply disagree with the notion that U. S. involvement in foreign wars endanger freedom (witness the “Patriot Act,” a term of doublespeak if there ever was one). Tea Party members are waking up to realize that the biggest threat to their freedom is not the terrorists, but the welfare-warfare state. The Tea Party should, with all its might, resist the attacks of the neoconservatives, who are accusing the Tea Party of “abandoning conservatism.” But the Neoconservatives are the ones who have abandoned conservatism. If the Tea Party truly becomes a party that frowns on unnecessary U. S. military interventions, it will provide a refreshing alternative to neoconservatives in the Republican Party and to Evangelicals who are misled by a faulty theory of Biblical interpretation. But if the Tea Party gives into pressure and supports a warmongering stance, it will not ultimately succeed in transforming the political landscape of the United States, and that would be tragic. The Tea Party may be the last opportunity to forge a genuine conservative, noninterventionist movement in the United States, and I pray it goes that direction.