Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is an Israel Policy Debate Possible in the U.S.?

NPR's "Day to Day" program of Monday October 30 had a segment entitled "Is an Israel Policy Debate Possible in the U.S.?" For many it may come as a surprise that this question is even asked. After all, it's a free country isn't it? Well, maybe not as free as we sometimes like to think. A controversy arose recently when Tony Judt was scheduled to give a talk on the Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy at the Polish Consulate in New York City. (Note that Mr. Judt is a Jew who was a Zionist in his youth.) After telephone calls from one or more Jewish organizations the Consulate abruptly cancelled the talk on the day it was to occur.

This has been referred to as l'affaire Judt and commented upon by Juan Cole and others. If you search Cole's blog you will find several posts re l'affaire Judt.

What I want to point out here is the degree of exaggeration leaders of pro-Israel organizations often use in defaming those with whom they disagree. I use the term "defaming" advisedly because there is massive irony in the fact that people who founded an organization called "The Anti-Defamation League" so often use defamation as a tactic. David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, who called the Polish Consul stated on "Day to Day" that "Tony Judt had been critical of Israel and at times had called into question its future existence." The key phrase here is "called into question [Israel's] future existence."

And how did Mr. Judt call into question Israel's existence? As far as I can tell Mr. Judt suggested that Israel should become a multi-ethnic state including both Jews and Palestinians. The "Day to Day" reporter said that "three years ago, Judt wrote an essay in The New York Review of Books arguing that most Western Democratic states have become multi-ethnic and multi-cultural." Mr. Judt called the idea of a Jewish state an "anachronism" in that context, suggesting it too should become multi-ethnic.

It is a frequent complaint of Israelis and pro-Israelis that Israel's "existence" is threatened or that its "existence" is called into question. If a group like Hamas does say Israel should not exist then that qualifies as calling its existence into question. But if a Jew and former Zionist expresses the opinion that the form the future state of Israel should take is bi-national or multi-ethnic I think it is defaming him to say that thereby he has "at times... called into question [Israel's] future existence." These are disinformation and smear tactics to try to emotionally pressure others to ignore Mr. Judt's opinions. Although what was said to the Polish Consul to lead them to cancel Mr. Judt's talk is now shrouded in a mist of charge and counter-charge, it would be naive to think that in private conversation worse charges about Mr. Judt were not made to emotionally pressure the Consul to cancel Mr. Judt's talk.

For more on this issue one can learn of a debate on "The Isreal Lobby and U.S. Foreign policy at the Council for the National Interest or read more about this controversy in Philip Weiss' article, Israel Lobby Watch , in The Nation.

Monday, October 30, 2006

William F. Buckley's Courageous Fight for Principle--NOT

In "Conservatism in America Since 1930: A Reader" edited by Gregory L. Schneider (2003), one of the readings is William F. Buckley's "Statement of Intentions" for his National Review magazine (pp. 195-200). Buckley lists as "Among our convictions" the following: "The competitive price system is indispensable to liberty and material progress. It is threatened not only by the growth of Big Brother Government, but by the pressure of monopolies--including union monopolies. What is more some labor unions have clearly identified themselves with doctrinaire socialist objectives. The characteristic problems of harassed business have gone unreported for years, with the result that the public has been taught to assume--almost instinctively--that conflicts between labor and management are generally traceable to greed and intransigence part of management (sic). Sometimes they are; often they are not. National Weekly will explore and oppose the inroads upon the market economy caused by monopolies in general, and politically oriented unionism in particular; and it will tell the violated businessman's side of the story."

Ah, now here is a breathtakingly courageous stand for principle against the current of popular opinion! In the United States of America, a society more enthralled to the values and interests of business than any other society in world history, Buckley took a stand for the "harassed" and "violated businessman's side of the story." Only in America where a president (Calvin Coolidge) could say "The business of the American people is business", or Secretary of Defense (and former CEO of General Motors) Charles Wilson could say "What's good for General Motors is good for the country", are the people as a whole so remarkably captured by the values and interests of a business culture. So it must have taken great personal fortitude for the son of a wealthy "oil baron" to take such a brave stand. Here is Wikipedia's descriptive account of William F. Buckley's childhood:

"Buckley was born in New York City to lawyer and oil baron William Frank Buckley, Sr., of Irish Catholic descent, and Aloise Steiner, a southerner of Swiss-German descent. The sixth of ten children, young Buckley moved with his family to Sharon, Connecticut. He soon moved to Paris where he attended first grade and learned French. By age seven, he had received formal training in English at a day school in London. As a boy, Buckley developed a love for music, sailing, horses, hunting, skiing, and story telling. All of these interests—and his strong Roman Catholic religious faith—would reflect in his later writings. He is also an accomplished amateur harpsichord player. He attended St John's Beaumont in England at age 13 just before World War II."

My goodness, I shudder to contemplate the courageous self-denial it must have taken for this privileged afficionado of "sailing, horses, hunting, skiing" and private schooling, to stand up publicly for the interests of his own all too privileged class. Buckley doesn't mention business monopolies; no, he is mainly concerned with "union monopolies"--and this in a country where it took unions until 1938, just 16 years before Buckley was writing, to gain adequate power to organize and fight for working interests. On the other hand, business corporations were given huge aids to their development for decades prior to 1938. The courts, government and police were biased against labor unions throughout most of the period while corporate collectivism was feeding gluttonously.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Witch's Brew of "Fusionist" Pseudo-Conservatism

In "Conservatism in America Since 1930: A Reader" edited by Gregory L. Schneider (2003), Mr. Schneider provides a nice example of a pseudo-conservative witch's brew by describing "a conservative (sic) intellectual tradition--emphasizing, not exclusively, limited government and veneration for the Constitution, moral traditionalism rooted in a Christian religious heritage, a muscular anti-communism, and the embrace of free market economics...."

Rather than try to be philosophically and intellectually consistent "fusionists" like William F. Buckley and Frank Meyer tried to tie together disparate strands of right wing opinion by attempting to make the incompatible compatible. Their goal was to cram together policies that would attract the largest political force and, regardless of their self-serving rhetoric of being "principled", they were not.

Certainly at least an argument could be made that the limited government of the Constitution involved, as an essential part, the separation of church and state and thus trying to marry veneration for the Constitution with "moral traditionalism rooted in a Christian religious heritage" could well create some problems. These problems are all too apparent among today's "Christian conservatives" who argue the founders intended no separation of church and state.

But certainly "a muscular anti-communism" is thoroughly inconsistent with "limited government and veneration for the Constitution" as the father of the Constitution, James Madison, never tired of pointing out: "The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." "It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad." "Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other." "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." These quotes and their source can be found in my Dawn of the Pseudo-Conservatives, Part 2. It is noteworthy that Frierich Hayek when articulating his political philosophy (Schneider, p. 190) wrote: "It is the doctrine on which the American system of government is based. In its pure form it is represented in the United States... by the ideas of James Madison, the 'father of the Constitution.'"

And, although I am frequently critical of Milton Friedman, one must respect his intellectual honesty in agreeing with Madison in an interview: "Progress in [Friedman's] goal of rolling back the role of government, he said, is 'being greatly threatened, unfortunately, by this notion that the U.S. has a mission to promote democracy around the world,' a big Bush objective. 'War is a friend of the state,' Friedman said. It is always expensive, requiring higher taxes, and, 'In time of war, government will take powers and do things that it would not ordinarily do'."

And Friedman added in another interview: Wall Street Journal July 22, 2006: "What's really killed the Republican Party isn't spending, it's Iraq. As it happens, I was opposed to going into Iraq from the beginning. I think it was a mistake, for the simple reason that I do not believe the United States of America ought to be involved in aggression."

Frankly, I see it as impossible to maintain that you are for limited government and for a huge "defense" and "national security" establishment. This is a fundamental contradiction in the heart of pseudo-conservatism. Intellectual honesty would require a choice to be made; you cannot support "limited government" as a general principle and a muscular militaristic foreign policy. Either say you only wish to limit government in certain specified ways and want a big "defense" establishment, or support limited government in general and oppose large military buildup.

I salute the Libertarian Party for their consistency on this issue: "American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and the defense -- against attack from abroad -- of the lives, liberty, and property of the American people on American soil. Provision of such defense must respect the individual rights of people everywhere. The principle of non-intervention should guide relationships between governments. The United States government should return to the historic libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, abstaining totally from foreign quarrels and imperialist adventures, and recognizing the right to unrestricted trade, travel, and immigration."

The Dawn of the Pseudo-Conservatives, Part 4

I'm reading an interesting anthology called "Conservatism in America Since 1930: A Reader" edited by Gregory L. Schneider (2003). I'm particularly interested in that period just after World War II when modern American "conservatism" became a self-conscious force with William F. Buckley and his collaborators at the National Review at its helm. Or as George H. Nash is quoted as saying (Schneider, p. 1): "In 1945 no articulate, coordinated, self-consciously conservative intellectual force existed in the United States."

A number of writers (e.g., Michael Lind, Up from Conservatism, pp. 53-4) have suggested that one of the major political successes of this new right-wing movement was its "fusion" of previously more separate strands on the right. Lind wrote: "The ingredients that were allegedly 'fused' were laissez faire capitalism and High Church Burkean moral traditionalism...." Thus, Part V of Schneider's anthology is devoted to "Fusion". However, my reading of the contributions on fusion finds them pretty unconvincing. The short selection from Frank Meyer, an ex-communist and later Buckley collaborator, who is often credited with successfully advocating "fusion" is quite windy, verbose and unclear. Perhaps the strongest selection from this section argues against such fusion: Friedrich Hayek's "Why I Am Not a Conservative." To appreciate the significance of this one must realize that Hayek was one of the patron saints of pseudo-conservatives, revered as were few others. But much like his classical liberal colleague Milton Friedman, Hayek had a tendency to intellectual consistency which made it impossible for him to swallow the witch's brew of "fusionist" pseudo-conservatism.

Hayek tried to advocate an intellectually consistent classical liberalism or, what is often called libertarianism in the U.S. today. Thus, much of what he said would have been anathema to the pseudo-conservative of today. For example, Hayek wrote that "to the liberal neither moral nor religious ideals are proper objects of coercion.... I sometimes feel that the most conspicuous attribute of liberalism that distinguishes it as much from conservatism as from socialism is the view that moral beliefs concerning matters of conduct which do not directly interfere with the protected sphere of other persons do not justify coercion." Hmmmm. Not much High Church Burkean moral traditionalism here as far as I can see. Prohibition, or the state coercing individuals not to drink alcoholic beverages would have been out. State prohibition of pornography would have been at lest problematic. State prohibition of the use of drugs would have been problematic. Certainly declaring America a "Christian nation" in any way that tilted toward an established religion would be anathema. State control of abortion would likely have given Hayek some difficulty because it pits the freedom of the pregnant female against the potential freedom of the unborn fetus. Only if one is willing to count the unborn fetus as having absolutely equal status with an individual who is at least 12 years old would Hayek be able to justify state controls on abortion. (I googled "milton friedman abortion" but could not find what Friedman's position on abortion is.)

Hayek was against protectionism as inadmissable state intervention in the market. He was very much for the free exchange of ideas and open scientific debate. He wrote: "I can have little patience with those who oppose... the theory of evolution or what are called 'mechanistic' explanations of the phenomena of life simply because of certain moral consequences which at first seem to follow from these theories, and still less with those who regard it as irreverent or impious to ask certain questions at all." Hayek, as a believer in free markets, supported an internationalist position against narrow nationalism: "Connected with the conservative distrust of the new and the strange is its hostility to internationalism and its proneness to a strident nationalism.... The growth of ideas in an international process, and only those who fully take part in the discussion will be able to exercise a significant influence.... Only at first does it seem paradoxical that the anti-internationalism of the conservative is so frequently associated with imperialism. But the more a person dislikes the strange and thinks his own ways superior, the more he tends to regard it as his mission to 'civilize' others...."

There are many times that one must admire the intellectual consistency of a Hayek or a Milton Friedman; an intellectual consistency that certainly does not extend to pseudo-conservatives like William F. Buckley, who were so ambitious to found a successful political movement that they sacrificed principle to "fuse" the witch's brew of contradictions that characterizes the American pseudo-conservative of today.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Francis Fukuyama and "Conservative" foreign policy

I'm collecting examples of recognitions, even if dim, that the sort of foreign policy pursued by the Bush 43 administration is NOT "conservative". In December 2002 Francis Fukuyama, erstwhile "neo-conservative" but a more recent critic of "neo-conservatism", wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal called "Today's 'conservative' foreign policy has an idealist agenda".

Fukuyama asked: "What does it mean to have a conservative foreign policy in the post-Cold War world, and in particular in the world that has emerged since Sept. 11?... American foreign policy has always been pulled in two directions, toward a realist defense of national security defined in relatively narrow terms, and toward an expansive sense of American purposes that rests directly on the exceptionalism of American institutions and the messianic belief in their universal applicability.... How can we characterize the post-Sept. 11 foreign policy of the Bush administration?... The administration's new National Security Strategy of the United States lays out an ambitious road map for the wholesale reordering of the politics of the Middle East, beginning with the replacement of Saddam Hussein by a democratic, pro-Western government. A variety of administration spokesmen and advisers have suggested that a different government in Iraq will change the political dynamics of the entire region, making the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more tractable, putting pressure on authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and broadly promoting the cause of democracy in a hostile part of the world that has proven stubbornly resistant to all democratic trends. The present administration, in other words, has articulated anything but a conservative foreign policy. It is embarking on an immensely ambitious exercise in the political re-engineering of a hostile part of the world (emphasis added)."

Yes, the Bush 43 foreign policy is "anything but a conservative". But the ultimate irony, to which Fukuyama doesn't seem to be alert is that this policy bears substantial resemblance to the Jacobin foreign policy of the French Revolution. This is supreme irony because modern conservatism as an articulated political philosophy appeared as a critique of the perceived excesses of the French Revolution!

The sequence went like this: 1) the French Revolution occurs; 2) Edmund Burke as English political observer writes his critique, Reflections on the Revolution in France, articulating and founding modern conservatism; 3) American pseudo-conservatives on the radical right misappropriate for themselves the term "conservative" in the Cold War period; 4) this misnomer is accepted in American political discourse with scarce recognition that policies being advocated as "conservative" are frequently just the opposite; and thereby 5) what is a Jacobin foreign policy is now advocated under the label that originated as a criticism of Jacobinism and the French Revolution itself.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pseudo-Conservative Priorities and America's Future

In reading the contemporary American right’s views on foreign policy one cannot miss their immense emphasis on military spending. Since the monumental change in America’s military establishment wrought by World War II they have repeatedly found most administrations derelict in not devoting enough to our military. They were critical during the Eisenhower administration (the "missile gap"), during the Ford administration (Rumsfeld and Cheney fighting with Kissinger, see James Mann's Rise of the Vulcans), the Carter administration, the Bush 41 administration and certainly during the Clinton administration. The only presidential administrations’ military spending the radical right has been satisfied with were those of Reagan and Bush 43. As presidential campaigns approached one would usually find some new organization of the right formed to campaign for higher military spending and loudly announce that our military was being “weakened”. This was true of the Committee on the Present Danger in the 1970s and the Project for the New American Century in the 1990s.

For example in Kagan and Kristol’s Present Dangers (2000, p. 4) the author’s claim that “[o]ur present danger is one of declining military strength…. Americans and their political leaders have spent the years since 1991 lavishing the gifts of an illusory ‘peace dividend’ upon themselves….” And later (pp. 7-8), “the United States [throughout the 1990s] allowed its military strength to deteriorate to the point where its ability to defend its interests and defer future challenges is now in doubt.” And on p. 15: “To repair these [military] deficiencies and to create a force that can shape the international environment… will probably require spending some $60 billion to $100 billion per year above current defense budgets.”

It is interesting to note that pseudo-conservatives almost never raise a single question about the feasibility or value of such increased military spending, but are ever ready to leap on anyone raising questions about this with their favorite epithets such as “appeasement” and “pacifist”. In other words, they inevitably attempt to shout any critic down with emotional rhetoric hoping to successfully stampede people into being afraid to oppose them. They are the Party of Fear.

In his book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, Paul Kennedy (1987) cautiously offered a few generalizations based on his careful study of this 500 year period. He wrote (p. xxiii): “Most of the historical examples covered here suggest there is a noticeable ‘lag time’ between the trajectory of a state’s relative economic strength and the trajectory of its military/territorial influence…. An economically expanding power… may well prefer to become rich rather than to spend heavily on armaments. A half-century later, priorities may well have altered. The earlier economic expansion has brought with it overseas obligations (dependence upon foreign markets and raw materials, military alliances, perhaps bases and colonies)…. In these more troubled circumstances, the Great Power is likely to find itself spending much more on defense than it did two generations earlier, and yet still discover that the world is a less secure environment—simply because other powers have grown faster, and are becoming stronger…. Great Powers in relative decline instinctively respond by spending more on ‘security,’ and thereby divert potential resources from ‘investment’ and compound their long-term dilemma (emphasis added).”

To those on the right careful consideration of the possibility that increased US military spending at this point in our history could actually weaken us rather than strengthen us would be “thinking the unthinkable” and thus impossible. Indeed, Kagan and Kristol (Present Dangers, 2000, p. x) stated: “We would also note that there are omissions in this collection [of essays]. There is no essay on international economics….” Since nearly all the book is devoted to advocating greater military strength and a greater readiness to use it, they did not give any room to economic considerations. Yet, as Paul Kennedy pointed out, it is precisely the productiveness of a country’s industrial base that makes a powerful military possible.

And, though I am not an economist, there seem to be some significant contemporary concerns about the future productiveness of our industrial base. Books like Senator Byron Dorgan's Take This Job and Ship Itand Jeff Faux's The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back, do express concern about the deterioration of our manufacturing base, the export of our previously high paying manufacturing jobs overseas, our decreased international competitiveness as measured by our record trade deficits, etc. It seems particularly important at this time to consider whether our increasing spending on "defense" and the Iraq war are part of a trend which may lead to the "Fall" of this "Great Power". If this occurs it will be the siren songs of the Party of Fear which hastened our decline.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

John Judis on "The Origins of Conservative Foreign Policy"

In 1985 John Judis published an enlightening paper called "The Origins of Conservative Foreign Policy". Although a look at my previous posts on Why Pseudo-Conservatives are not "Conservative" show why I don't agree with Judis' acquiescence in the radical right's misappropriation of the term "conservative", he made some very interesting points about the historical origins of the right's Jacobin-like foreign policy. It is interesting to note how often so-called "neo-conservative" policies originated with former leftists who were traumatized by "The God That Failed", i.e., the Soviet Union as avante garde champion of the ideals of the left. It is perhaps not amiss to consider the horrendous damage the success of the Bolshevik Revolution did to the pre-Bolshevik left.

Although Freud was a genius, as a psychoanalytically trained psychologist I have come to view him as a seriously flawed genius. Nonetheless, Freud had a concept that often seems intriguingly appropriate to what happened to "neo-conservative" anti-communists like Burnham; Freud called it "identification with the aggressor." Freud's idea was that those who had been the victims of aggression often tried to "defend" and strengthen themselves by adopting some of the tactics and characteristics of whomever had victimized them. Feeling victimized and betrayed by Stalinism, ex-leftists often later adopted tactics and strategy very reminiscent of Stalin's. Being heavily influenced by the ideological announcements of Stalinism, and taking these for the reality of Soviet foreign policy, ex-Trotskyists like James Burnham and Irving Kristol, found themselves advocating that America adopt foreign policy strategies that reflected the "liberationist" ideology of Stalinist foreign policy. I differentiate Stalinist ideology from actual Soviet foreign policy actions because I strongly believe they were quite different from one another. And Freud or no Freud, one thing I have learned as a psychologist is to pay attention to what people do and not what they say.

One of the most fascinating phenomena of post World War II history is the bitter irony of former Socialists, who understandably were disenchanted by Stalinism and ultimately vigorously opposed it, adopting Stalinist-like strategy to oppose Stalinism. As I read Judis' account of James Burnham's ideological evolution this occurred to Burnham: "Burnham’s analysis now rested on a double standard. On one hand, he still contended that communist doctrine was merely myth, but on the other hand he freely quoted from Marx, Lenin, and Stalin in trying to demonstrate that the Soviet goal was not merely national security or imperial enhancement, but world revolution.... Like the disillusioned Communists with whom he would later collaborate, he had adopted a kind of inverted Stalinism.... In Containment or Liberation, published in 1953, Burnham made his differences with [George] Kennan and the Democrats explicit. While Kennan (in Burnham’s words) understood the Soviet Union as an 'extension of Czarist imperialism,' Burnham insisted that it was 'an entirely new revolutionary power'.... In The Struggle for the World, Burnham’s strategy appeared to mirror that of Stalin’s [calling] upon the U.S. to undertake an 'open policy of liberation toward the USSR and its satellites and captive nations'."

Whatever the origins of pseudo-conservative Jacobin foreign policy, and it was caused by multiple interacting factors, it is a profoundly baneful policy that may ultimately be the downfall of American world power.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pseudo-Conservative Contradictions

I continue here my series of posts on Why Pseudo-Conservatives are Not "Conservative". The prior posts include: Recognition of the Need for the Term "Pseudo-Conservative", The Dawn of the Pseudo-Conservatives, Dawn of the Pseudo-Conservatives, Part 2 and Dawn of the Pseudo-Conservatives, Part 3.

“Conservatives” are supposed to be individualists who oppose the dominance over the individual by the collective. But most “conservatives” are enthusiastic supporters of the modern corporation and big business, artificial collectives that have a profound power over individuals. The power of corporations is exercised over its employees who are real individuals; this power is also exercised over every level of government through lobbyists, attorneys, tax accountants, industry associations, etc. As Robert Reich wrote in a 1981 Harvard Business Review article about business intermediaries to government: “They are about 12,000 Washington-based lawyers who represent business before regulatory agencies and the federal courts, the 9,000 lobbyists who represent business before Congress, the 42,000 trade association personnel who keep close watch on pending regulations and legislation, the 8,000 public relations specialists who advise business executives about regulatory issues, the 1,200 specialized journalists who report to particular industries on government developments that might affect them, the 1,300 public affairs consultants who provide regulatory officials with specialized information about particular industries.” And remember, that was 25 years ago.

Even Adam Smith, apparently a more honest and consistent advocate of classical liberalism than Milton Friedman, wrote: “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices (cited in Friedman, 2002, p. 131).” But Milton Friedman quickly dismisses this wise and obvious observation assuring us that “collusion or private cartel arrangements… are generally unstable and of brief duration unless they can call government to their assistance (emphasis added).” Friedman apparently did not think it necessary to take up the case of “government… assistance.” Yet it must be obvious to anyone but the most confirmed ideologue of the right that business has an immense ability to gain the government’s assistance in the most multi-faceted ways. If I, as an individual, contact my elected representative I am lucky to receive a letter in reply; if the CEO of a corporation calls there is no difficulty getting a face to face meeting; moreover, that corporate CEO may well have many “mercenaries” of wealth ready to fight on the corporation’s behalf. As FDR stated: "It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property.”

Why do I call the corporation an “artificial collective”? Because the corporation was a human invention which over its history has been given immense special privileges. It is treated as an “individual” before the law. It has been granted the protections of “limited liability”. It facilitates the use of “other people’s money” by the chief executives of the corporation because it allows stock to be sold to a broad public for corporate purposes (see The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, 2003, by John Micklethwait and A. Wooldridge). It is instructive to compare the history of great favoritism toward the corporation in America to the history of blatant discrimination against another modern collective, the union of working people. This discrminative treatment of unions is still very much with us, especially under Republican administrations (see "Dueling over Delphi").

The notion that “the corporation is the instrument of the stockholders who own it” (Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, 2002, p. 135) is a patent fiction to anyone who, as part of a majority of stockholders, has had an interest contrary to that of corporate managers. It is certainly not the unorganized shareholders who run the corporation, nor is it the Board of Directors—which is selected by management (on this see Warren Buffett, a member of several Boards of Directors)—it is the highest executives who control the modern corporation. On the same page Milton Friedman allowed as he had heard of the charge that “modern business… involves the separation of ownership and control.” And what was Friedman’s sophisticated argument against this claim? “This charge is not true.” Case closed.

Thus, the only “collective” that pseudo-conservatives allegedly oppose is the “state” or government. But wait a minute. Pseudo-conservatives are not consistent in their opposition to the state either. Since most Americans of the right actively and aggressively support immense expenditures for “defense” and “national security”, and since these make the largest contribution to central government growth, they are not consistent opponents of aggrandizing state power. And since most of the radical right also supports the state in its policing power to maintain “law and order” and to oppose such evils as communism and terrorism, they are rarely supporters of civil liberties such as freedom of speech or freedom from illegal search and seizure. There are actually only a narrow group of issues on which pseudo-conservatives oppose state power. They tend to oppose government taxation and many government regulations. This makes them natural allies of what already is the most powerful political and cultural force in the United States, business interests. They also oppose government regulations upon ownership and use of guns. They frequently also oppose abortion rights as set down by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade.

Thus, “conservatives”, contrary to their public pronouncements cannot be defined as individualists opposing collectivism and state power. They are extremely inconsistent in their selective “individualism”.

Moreover, the moralism and values issues supported by the right frequently involve increases in government power over the individual. Making abortion illegal and enforcing this would increase government at the expense of the individual. Outlawing same sex marriage increases the power of the state at the expense of the individual. Prohibition was not only a failure but it contributed to growth in federal expenditures for law enforcement of 500% between 1920 and 1930 (Randall G. Holcombe, “THE GROWTH OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN THE 1920s”, The Cato Journal, Vol. 16, No. 2).

[The latter is a publication of the Cato Institute which tends to try to be more consistently libertarian (i.e., closer to a true classical liberal position), but the bias against labor is still present: Holcombe stated: "The substantial increase in expenditures on labor interests... primarily represent the Department of Labor budget, which included a diverse set of activities.... The Harding and Coolidge administrations had a pro-business reputation, but expenditures on labor-related activities soared during the 1920s." The latter statement makes it sound as though the extremely pro-business Harding and Coolidge administrations were nonetheless spending "soaring" amounts in support of "labor-related activities." What Mr. Holcombe failed to share with us is that after the Palmer raids of 1919-20 the major tool for fighting labor activists and other radicals who were foreign born (and a great many were immigrants) was deportation; deportation was handled by "the Labor Department, the agency then in charge of immigration" (see Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America, Ellen Schrecker, 1998, p. 58). Thus, many dollars of "labor-related activities" were anti-labor union and thoroughly consistent with the pro-business reputation of the Harding and Coolidge administrations.]

Those in America today, who call themselves “conservatives”, are not at all what they claim to be. They are radicals of the right who are hyper-nationalistic, support an essentially Jacobin crusading foreign policy, demand huge increases in government for "defense", usually oppose efforts to protect civil liberties, selectively oppose some government regulations while championing others, and are thoroughly allied with what is already the most powerful special interest in American life, the corporate and business lobby.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Avigdor Lieberman Accepted into Israeli Government

What might it mean for U.S. foreign policy that far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman has been taken into Ehud Olmert's Israeli government? Pseudo-conservatives in the U.S. share "tough", "hard-line" views with Israel's right wing. Indeed, some prominent American pseudo-conservative hard-liners are very much associated with Israel's hard right and share very much the same kind of views. Three influential Bush 43 administration figures actually wrote an advisory document for Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1996, the Clean Break paper. These three were: Richard Perle, who was initially chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, Douglas Feith, who was Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and David Wurmser, who was the Middle East Adviser to US Vice President Dick Cheney. A careful reading of the Clean Break paper reveals that these three advocated hard-line policies to incoming Prime Minister Netanyahu and that the document is written as though the authors saw themselves as Zionist Israelis as well as American citizens. The latter impression "prompted Ha’aretz columnist Akiva Eldar to warn that Feith and Perle [and Wurmser] 'are walking a fine line between their loyalty to American governments … and Israeli interests'." (See "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy", p. 33).

Avigdor Lieberman, who was dismissed from Sharon's government in 2004 because he strongly opposed the withdrawal from Gaza, will be made "a deputy prime minister responsible for 'strategic threats' against Israel, a portfolio that would include monitoring Iran, which Israel regards as its most dangerous enemy", said today's New York Times. In an April 17, 2006 article in the Jerusalem Post, "Lieberman: We must act against Iran", Lieberman was quoted as saying "Israel needs to mostly act, and to talk less." The article went on to say: "While Israel officially continues to back diplomatic efforts to stop Iran's race to the bomb, the IDF and particularly the IAF, have been working on assault plans for an attack against the Iranian nuclear sites. With numerous sites spread throughout the country, the attack, officers have admitted, would be difficult although feasible."

So Mr. Lieberman is welcomed into the weakened Olmert government to shore it up thereby pushing the official government that much further to the right. Mr. Lieberman will be put in charge of how to deal with Iran about which he has already made very aggressive statements. This is similar to the position of pseudo-conservative William Kristol in the U.S. who recently advocated "a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities"; see Why Pseudo-Conservatives are not "Conservative".

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Just a Post to List My Blog on Technorati

The last real post was just prior to this: "George W. Bush's Jacobin Foreign Policy", see immediately below.
Technorati Profile

Saturday, October 21, 2006

George W. Bush's Jacobin Foreign Policy

On his website a fellow named Dan Flynn, whom I would likely label a pseudo-conservative, raises a very interesting question: “IS THERE A CONSERVATIVE FOREIGN POLICY?” He wonders about a schism among those he calls "conservative" regarding foreign policy: "Might the seeds of the current conservative [sic] foreign policy schism be the natural consequence of uniting the crusading, liberation-oriented brand of anti-communist with the Washingtonian, non-interventionist libertarians and traditionalists?"

Unless one is willing to ignore the dictionary definition of "conservative" ("Characterized by a tendency to preserve or keep intact or unchanged; preservative.... The maintenance of existing institutions political and ecclesiastical.... Characterized by caution or moderation."), one must agree that George Washington's position was the only genuinely "conservative" foreign policy. Washington was indeed one of the “non-interventionist libertarians and traditionalists.”

Apparently Mr. Flynn does not take the next step and ask himself whether "the crusading, liberation-oriented brand of anti-communist" can accurately be labeled “conservative”. If he had he would have noted that a “crusading, liberation-oriented brand of anti-communist” and “conservative” involve a contradiction in terms. The former is the very antithesis of "conservative", it represents a radical or revolutionary foreign policy. It resembles the foreign policy of the leaders of the French Revolution. Claes G. Ryn has noted this in his article for The American Conservative, “A Jacobin in Chief: Exporting the French Revolution to the World.”

Ryn wrote: “It should by now be obvious that, in his foreign policy views at minimum, the president of the United States [George W. Bush] is no conservative. He is a Jacobin nationalist.” And students of the French Revolution will know this to be true.

Here is an irony that perhaps only George Orwell could fully appreciate. In his discussion of “dying metaphors” Orwell said: “there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves…. Some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning without those who use them even being aware of the fact.” Although “conservative” is not a metaphor, the spirit of Orwell’s point applies. “Conservative” is a word that in contemporary American political usage has lost its “evocative power” and been “twisted out of [its] original meaning without those who use [it] even being aware of the fact.”

How far has “conservative” been “twisted out of [its] original meaning?” In a jaw-dropping debasement of the term, a foreign policy that reflects Jacobin values is now called "conservative"! Here is an irony for the Guinness Book of Records. Edmund Burke invented the articulate philosophy of modern conservatism on the very basis of his critique of the French Revolution (see his Reflections on the Revolution in France). And yet in twenty-first century America, many who call themselves “conservative” are advocating a foreign policy of spreading principles of liberty and freedom to foreign countries in a manner hardly distinguishable from radical French revolutionaries.

As Claes Ryn noted: “Inspired, guided, and supported by the ubiquitous neoconservatives, President Bush has adopted and fostered an ideologically charged missionary spirit that bears a striking resemblance to that of the Jacobins who led the French Revolution. The principles of “freedom and democracy” are to be promoted around the world by virtuous American power. The French Jacobins, too, saw themselves as virtuous champions of universal principles, “freedom” and popular rule prominent among them.” And just what, we must wonder, would Edmund Burke have had to say about this?

Claes Ryn's article is excellent. He further wrote: "What goes curiously unnoticed is that, despite their label, the neoconservatives think of themselves as representing a progressive, revolutionary force. The America they champion is not the America of history with its deep roots in a European and English past. In theory, they have constructed their own America, which represents a radical break with history.... Another leading neoconservative, Michael Ledeen, who first came into view as an advisor on national security in the Reagan White House, openly portrays the America with which he identifies as a destroyer of existing societies. According to Ledeen, 'Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day. ... Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions. ... [We] must destroy them to advance our historic mission.'"

Ryn contiued: "Some of the most prominent neoconservatives caught the revolutionary spirit when they were still Marxists, and despite their 'second thoughts' they still harbor a deep desire for remaking the world according to a single model, their model. One of the reasons they are now fond of capitalism is that, like Marx, they conceive of it as an effective destroyer of traditional elites and societies. According to Irving Kristol, the reputed godfather of neoconservatism, today’s United States is 'ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear.' His son William insists that for America vigorously to promote its universal principles abroad, it must have great military and other governmental might. The old conservative suspicion of strong, centralized federal government must be abandoned. According to the elder Kristol, it has been the role of neoconservatism 'to convert the Republican party, and conservatism in general, against their wills,' to this new conception of government."

"To call people who are attracted to the new Jacobinism 'neoconservatives' reveals profound confusion. Modern conservatism was born in opposition to Jacobin universalism. The father of conservatism, Edmund Burke, was an English liberal, a Whig, who was very friendly to the American colonists; he thought they had strong traditional grounds for challenging king and Parliament. What Burke argued passionately against, by contrast, was the French Revolution and Jacobin thinking, which he saw as expressing an unhistorical, tyrannical spirit and an importunate desire for power. Burke warned specifically against “liberty” in the abstract. Like Burke, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution associated liberty with particular inherited traditions, limited, decentralized government, checks on power, self-restraint, moderation, and a willingness to compromise. Jacobin “freedom,” by contrast, justifies unchecked imperial power. That is the “freedom” for which George W. Bush has become the most prominent advocate (emphasis added)."

And these revolutionaries have the nerve to label themselves neo-"conservative". Now that's chutzpah! I've often observed that today's pseudo-conservative has the nerve of a safecracker. There is apparently no ruse or myth he/she feels incapable of selling to the American people.

Friday, October 20, 2006

North Korea, Part 3

This is the third post on North Korea; for the first see "Responsibility for North Korea's Nuclear Test" and the second see "More on North Korea Policy".

Pseudo-conservative debating tactics usually involve significant amounts of misinformation and distortion of the facts. This not only comes from the Bush 43 administration but also from right-wing "think" tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation. Selig Harrison, as a distinguished North Korea watcher and advocate of bilateral negotiations with the North Koreans, recently made appearances on the Lehrer Newshour (October 17) and on National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show (October 18). (See Harrison’s book, Korean Endgame, 2003.) On both of these programs he was opposed by representatives of the Heritage Foundation. For examples of misinformation and distortion let’s look at the Newshour debate with Balbina Hwang.

First Harrison, who just returned from a visit to North Korea during which he spoke with several of its leaders, made a point he believed critical to the current stalemate between the North and the U.S.: “Well, I think we have financial sanctions that have been in place for the last year. Just at the time when we concluded the agreement with North Korea to denuclearize on September 19th of last year, we were starting up a program of financial sanctions then which have hurt. They've not only hurt the leadership, but they've hurt the economic development of North Korea. They're trying to develop economic reforms. If they want to import equipment for a factory to make consumer goods, these banking sanctions have made that impossible. So we say we want to open up North Korea to the outside world, but we've been clamping down on them for the past year. And that is what led to the first nuclear test. And if we get a second nuclear test, it's going to be because we put more pressure on. When you put the pressure on North Korea, they feel they have to prove their manhood by resisting it and doing something to show you that they're not going to be pushed around.”

Harrison contends that in September 2005, just days after concluding a widely publicized agreement with the North, the U.S. placed new financial sanctions on them. Hwang responds by essentially denying the charge that “financial sanctions” have been placed on the North: “First of all, the so-called financial sanctions that Selig Harrison is talking about, that's technically not even the right term. They are not sanctions. They were specific actions taken by our Treasury Department, the U.S. government, specifically targeting very specific actions against specific financial institutions that were involved in illegal activities, illegal financial transactions. That is what the Treasury Department has gone after…. [T]he actions taken by the Treasury Department since last year have cut down specific financial illegalities.”

Like a dutiful pseudo-conservative Hwang of the Heritage Foundation parrots the administration cover story that all that was involved here were attempts to stop alleged North Korean illicit activities. Harrison continued to insist this was not accurate: “At the very time when we were concluding the agreement with them last September, we were starting banking sanctions -- not the ones you're talking about. You're talking about a couple of cases where we're cracking down on counterfeiting. But what you don't -- what Treasury Department doesn't like to talk about is that they've now begun to, and they've got it into the U.N. resolution now, is telling the banks of everywhere in the world: Do not deal with North Korea.” To underline this disagreement as to fact there follows this exchange:

BALBINA HWANG: But to illegality [sic] activities.


BALBINA HWANG: It's illegal activities.

SELIG HARRISON: Unfortunately, read the Wall Street journal on August 23rd, and you'll see Undersecretary Stuart Levey saying we're telling banks, "No North Korea accounts. Don't touch these people."

Let’s examine some other evidence bearing on this question of fact. The March 10, 2006 New York Times included this article: “U.S. Squeezes North Korea's Money Flow”. The article stated: “Six months after the Bush administration blacklisted a bank in Macao accused of laundering money for the North Korean government, senior administration officials say the action has proved to be far more effective than anyone had dreamed. Banks around the world are limiting their dealings with North Korea, and the nation's leadership is complaining with a vigor unusual even for that government. ''It really struck a nerve,'' a senior administration official said with a smile. It also has given new energy to those in the administration who have argued for years that the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks were a waste of time and that direct action was the only tactic that might force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. Since the Treasury Department ordered American banks to cut off relations with the Macao bank, Banco Delta Asia, on Sept. 15, the administration has repeatedly insisted that the law enforcement action was unrelated to the nuclear negotiations. Only now are officials saying that further law enforcement actions are planned, and their use has coalesced into a strategy (emphasis added).”

The article continued: “Senior officials said the White House has given the Treasury and Justice departments full authority to take additional legal and financial actions against North Korea. This policy is not uniformly popular in the State Department, where officials are managing the six-nations talks that include the United States, Russia, South Korea, China and Japan. One senior official complained that the policy would turn the talks into nothing more than 'a surrender mechanism' (emphasis added).

Although there is some ambiguity this article seems to say that although the administration at first said they were only blocking illegal activities by March 2006 they were “saying that further law enforcement actions are planned, and their use has coalesced into a strategy.” And that “Banks around the world are limiting their dealings with North Korea.” The article also made it clear that these financial sanctions are meant to put pressure on the North Koreans during nuclear negotiations, i.e., not simply actions taken against illegal activities unrelated to the negotiations.

On September 8, 2006 Under Secretary of the Treasury Stuart Levey gave a talk to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute. Levey was the person Selig Harrison cited above because Levey is responsible for the North Korean financial sanctions. During this talk Levey stated: “As a result of these actions and public revelations about North Korea's criminal conduct, responsible foreign jurisdictions and institutions have taken steps to ensure that North Korean entities engaged in illicit conduct are not receiving financial services. Press reports indicate that some two dozen financial institutions across the globe have voluntarily cut back or terminated their business with North Korea, including institutions in China, Japan, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Singapore…. Indeed, the line between North Korea's licit and illicit money is nearly invisible, and the U.S. Government is urging financial institutions around the world to think carefully about the risks of doing any North Korea-related business. If recent press reports are any guide, many seem to be doing just that (emphasis added).”

Again, while the initial story is about actions taken to specifically thwart illegal activities, it here clearly and unambiguously broadens into precisely what Harrison contended was happening and what North Korean representatives complained of to Harrison on his visit in September 2006: “and the U.S. Government is urging financial institutions around the world to think carefully about the risks of doing any North Korea-related business. If recent press reports are any guide, many seem to be doing just that.” Others have made the obvious point that if you are trying to stop money going to North Korea for illicit purposes “the line between North Korea's licit and illicit money is nearly invisible”; thus you end up trying to stop all money to North Korea and in doing that you are penalizing the economic growth of the entire society.

So pseudo-conservatives like Balbina Hwang are not contributing to an honest debate about our North Korea policy, they are the purveyors of propaganda and misinformation because they are so committed to punitive policies that they will say whatever they feel is necessary to support punitive policies. Therefore one seldom hears a serious discussion about the efficacy of punitive policies. Do they work? And, if so, under what conditions do they work? Selig Harrison made the case that: “When you put the pressure on North Korea, they feel they have to prove their manhood by resisting it and doing something to show you that they're not going to be pushed around.” Pseudo-conservatives appear so utterly and ideologically committed to punitive policies they cannot consider arguments like Harrison’s.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More on North Korea Policy

In my “Responsibility for North Korea's Nuclear Test” post of October 15 I mis-stated some of the complexities involved in the question of whether N. Korea was actually proceeding with uranium enrichment as the Bush 43 administration charged in October 2002. I wrote: “But, in the summer of 2002, there was increasing evidence that the North Koreans had resumed their nuclear program.” Since then I have come across an article by Selig Harrison, Director of the Asia Program and Chairman of the Task Force on U.S. Korea Policy at the Center for International Policy. In Foreign Affairs, January-February 2005, he published an article entitled “Did North Korea Cheat?"

Taken together Harrison’s and Pollack’s articles support the following conclusions:

1) The Bush 43 administration hurried the confrontational visit of Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly to North Korea in October 2002 to block more conciliatory approaches by the South Koreans and Japanese. Harrison wrote: “Kelly's confrontation with Kang [N. Korea’s First Deputy Foreign Minister] seems to have been inspired by the growing alarm felt in Washington in the preceding five months over the ever more conciliatory approach that Seoul and Tokyo had been taking toward Pyongyang; by raising the uranium issue, the Bush administration hoped to scare Japan and South Korea into reversing their policies. The chain of events leading to the confrontation began in April 2002, when the two Koreas decided to move ahead with plans for North-South railroad links and for the development of a new industrial zone at Kaesong in North Korea, where some 1,000 South Korean firms were expected to establish factories. These steps required U.S. approval to de-mine the demilitarized zone. The United States strongly resisted the thaw, refused to approve the de-mining, and threatened to block the Kaesong project by restricting the use of U.S.-licensed and other sensitive technology by companies investing in the zone. (U.S.-South Korean tensions over the technology issue have since intensified.) But in August 2002, South Korea's then president, Kim Dae Jung, personally appealed to President George W. Bush to drop his objections, and on September 12, after an intense diplomatic struggle, the Pentagon reluctantly gave the go-ahead for de-mining. American anxieties only grew, however, when, on September 17, 2002, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pyongyang to discuss the normalization of relations--a visit that Japan had been quietly exploring for more than nine months without telling the United States. Washington, in fact, found out about the trip only three weeks before it occurred, when Koizumi presented the upcoming visit as a fait accompli to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Koizumi did not ask for U.S. permission to go to North Korea, and he refused to call off the trip even after Armitage revealed Washington's suspicions about a secret North Korean uranium program.”
2) The Bush administration’s policy toward North Korea involved yet another instance of publicly reporting a worst case scenario based upon equivocal intelligence. As Harrison wrote: “The administration's underlying mistake--in the case of the North Korean uranium mystery, as in Iraq--has been treating a worst-case scenario as revealed truth.” Read Harrison’s article for his substantiating arguments.
3) Point 2) is also supported by Pollack’s account of the changes in intelligence conclusions about N. Korea that occurred immediately upon Bush taking office: “The reporting on the North’s nuclear weapons program varied little during the 1990s, but estimates released since 2001 have been highly inconsistent. In 1993, the Central Intelligence Agency first concluded that in the late 1980s “North Korea . . . ha[d] produced enough plutonium for at least one, and possibly two, nuclear weapons.” This judgment was reaffirmed in all unclassified intelligence assessments throughout the latter half of the 1990s, up to intelligence reporting in mid-2001. Though the CIA assessment was widely interpreted as evidence that North Korea had one or two nuclear weapons in its possession, neither the intelligence community nor any senior U.S. official offered a definitive statement to this effect during the remainder of the 1990s. However, the intelligence community assessment shifted noticeably in December 2001, when an unclassified version of a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) asserted that “[t]he Intelligence Community judged in the mid-1990s that North Korea had produced one, possibly two, nuclear weapons.” Subsequent intelligence reporting further altered earlier estimates. In an unclassified assessment provided to the Congress on 19 November 2002, the CIA stated: “The U.S. . . . has assessed since the early 1990s that the North has one or possibly two [nuclear] weapons using plutonium it produced prior to 1992.” So for many years intelligence said N. Korea had produced enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons; after Bush 43 took office it was asserted that not just plutonium but weapons themselves had been produced; and, finally, the date of successful production of weapons is moved earlier and earlier. This is the familiar Bush 43 M.O.; threats are magnified by reinterpreting intelligence to produce the worst possible scenario and encourage support for a “hard-line” policy.
4) Finally, Harrison made an important point that the Bush 43 confrontation over an alleged uranium enrichment program was precisely the wrong priority because the major threat from N. Korea involved their use of plutonium and advancing their plutonium program: “Right now, however, the United States confronts the disturbing immediate reality that the breakdown of the 1994 freeze agreement has made the United States less secure. The danger posed by North Korea's extant plutonium program has grown since the United States announced it was no longer bound by the Agreed Framework, and it is much greater than the hypothetical threat posed by a suspected uranium-enrichment program about which little is known. It is high time for the United States to switch course and deal with North Korea's plutonium first. Only after a relaxation of tensions with Pyongyang, through step-by-step mutual concessions, is the full truth about its uranium capabilities likely to be known, and only then can definitive action be taken to put the North Korean nuclear genie back in the bottle.” [The plutonium vs. uranium enrichment paths to nuclear weapons is discussed by Pollack, p. 30.]

I conclude from all this that Bush 43 North Korea policy is an excellent example of my primary contention that Pseudo-Conservatives can’t do foreign policy because they reduce the many basic tools of foreign policy to military threats, military action and “tough” posturing. In many ways foreign policy “hard-liners” resemble insecure, dysfunctional parents who try to raise their children through repetitive displays of “toughness” and harsh discipline; but behind the façade of “toughness” lays weakness and insecurity.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why Did the Bush Administration Go to War with Iraq? Part 1

I have a rather long paper on this topic that I'm going to post here in parts. I would appreciate constructive criticism of my arguments. Part 1 follows.

What prompted me to write this article was the appearance of some interesting and thought-provoking papers written by others. Among these are first, Mearsheimer and Walt’s very unusual article giving a critical account of “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy”. What is unusual is the fact that two mainstream political science professors wrote an article so critical of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and advocating a policy much more sympathetic to Palestinian aspirations that appeared as a Harvard Kennedy School of Government working paper. Second, an article by Jonathan Cutler of Wesleyan University, “Beyond Incompetence: Washington’s War in Iraq” and third, an article by Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at University of Michigan, called "The Iraqi Shiites: On the history of America’s would-be allies."

The possible motives for the Iraq war have received much attention since the war was initiated in March 2003. Many motives for war have been advanced and arguments have been marshaled for one motive as against others. More generally, the motives behind American foreign policy have long been debated. For those of us who are alarmed by the direction American foreign policy has been taking it is important to try to understand the motives and forces driving it.

There are a number of recurring debates about the motives behind US foreign policy. First, debate has occurred over whether policies have a single cause or are the product of multiple interacting causes; second, whether US governments act as a single unit or different factions exist within an administration advocating substantially different policies; third, whether policies are primarily a result of “realism” or can be pushed significantly in an unrealistic direction by emotional-ideological commitments; fourth, whether policies are pursued in a thoroughly knowledgeable fashion or policymakers often commit blunders and mistakes in carrying out their favored policies; finally, whether policies are driven by the reasons leaders publicly announce or public statements mainly serve to rally Americans behind the policies while the real reasons are discussed only privately.

The motives suggested for the war in Iraq have included: 1) America’s wish to control Middle East oil, 2) Bush II’s wish to get back at Saddam Hussein for planning to assassinate Bush I, 3) the Israel lobby, 4) neoconservative plans to establish a new and more stable base of US operations in the Middle East (more stable than Saudi Arabia as they saw it), 5) blundering and foolhardiness on the part of Bush and his key advisers, 6) a wish to establish “democracy” in the Middle East, 7) the belief that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, 8) the wish to prosecute the “war on terror”, 9) Bush II administration outrage at the brutal treatment of the Shia and Kurds by Saddam, and 10) because they thought it would be easy.

As a clinical psychologist it seems clear to me that most human behavior has more than a single motivation. People ordinarily have several reasons for taking actions. We typically act in such a way as to kill two, three or more birds with a single stone. Yet, when thinking about human motives, the human mind tends toward simplifying into either/or categories, probably because this simplification makes thinking easier and less complicated. Nonetheless, if we wish an adequate explanation of motives for the war we will not limit ourselves to single cause thinking and either/or alternatives.

This paper takes the position that there were multiple interacting motives for the war in Iraq. Desiring secure control over Iraqi oil, seeking more secure military bases, wanting revenge, attempting to realize a particular vision of Middle East policy as advocated by neoconservatives who might be allied with the “Israel Lobby”, all these and more could be concurrent causes of the war in Iraq. These motives are not mutually exclusive; pursuing one does not preclude pursuing others at the same time. In a recent comment on Mearsheimer and Walt’s article, “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy”, Noam Chomsky wrote about his view of “the main sources of US [Middle East] policy”. In discussing these he cautioned, “Notice incidentally that what is at stake is a rather subtle matter: weighing the impact of several factors which (all agree) interact in determining state policy….” Indeed, policy analysis is a “subtle matter” which does involve “weighing the impact of several factors which… interact in determining state policy”.

Policy is most typically discussed using general, inclusive terms such as “national interests” or “strategic interests” and these are often not defined more specifically. These generic terms usually include more than a single goal. There is evidence that, from the very beginning the Bush II administration defined goals in Iraq very broadly (See Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty, pp. 70-86). Condoleezza Rice, then National Security Adviser, “noted that Iraq might be the key to reshaping the entire region [of the Middle East]” in the Bush II administration’s first National Security Committee meeting on January 30, 2001, only 10 days after George W. Bush’s first inauguration. “[R]eshaping the entire region” almost certainly included more secure oil, a new “friendly” Iraqi regime, new military facilities, and another base to supplement and increase the “security” of the U.S.’ chief ally in the region, Israel.

Nonetheless, Mearsheimer and Walt seem close to falling into the either/or trap themselves:
"Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the U.S. decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was a critical element. Some Americans believe that this was a “war for oil,” but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure. (p. 29, emphasis added)"

Although they allow for other factors, they do not discuss any other than the Israel Lobby and oil. Moreover, it is not at all clear what the distinction between “direct evidence” and indirect evidence means in this context. Is it only direct evidence if a President or other administration spokesperson says, “We are going to invade Iraq because we want to make sure we can control their oil for our purposes”. If so then almost every other piece of evidence would be indirect. Such direct evidence is highly unlikely because it would clearly contradict US public statements about its motives. But how about the following, would this qualify as “direct” evidence? In his book “House of War” James Carroll writes (2006, pp. 484-5), “In 1992… [Paul] Wolfowitz wrote a document called ‘Defense Planning Guidance’… [which] foresaw the need for a new doctrine of ‘preventive war….’ [T]he Wolfowitz vision of 1992 described in detail an imagined war against, yes, Iraq.” In a footnote on p. 210 Carroll quotes from Wolfowitz, “In the Middle East and Southwest Asia… our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil.”

As indirect evidence many have pointed to the experience of Bush II and VP Cheney’s past executive activities and ownership interest in the oil industry as prima facie evidence that oil must have played a role. Also, in Chomsky’s book, “Failed States” (2006, p. 36) he wrote:
"Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, one of the more astute of the senior planners and analysts, Zbigniew Brzezinski, pointed out that America’s control over Middle East oil producers ‘gives it indirect but politically critical leverage on the European and Asian economies that are also dependent on energy exports from the region.’ He was reiterating the conclusions of leading post-World War II planners, George Kennan in this case, who recognized that control of the resources of the Gulf region would give the United States ‘veto power’ over its industrial rivals."

If influential foreign policy advisers like Bzezinski and Kennan are capable of recognizing the importance of Middle East oil, how likely is it that the Bush II administration would overlook its importance? If, instead of resources like oil as motives for war in Iraq, our leaders were concerned about the terrible atrocities Saddam had perpetrated on the Kurds, why might we have been so passive about atrocities in Rwanda? Here is a CIA description of Rwanda’s economy: “Rwanda is a poor rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa and is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary foreign exchange earners are coffee and tea.” Might the lack of any natural resources like oil be at all related to our lack of significant interest in Rwanda? Chomsky suggested a thought experiment where we imagine that the primary output of Iraq were “lettuce and pickles” and then reflect upon whether the Bush II administration would be equally focused on Iraq.

Regarding Mearsheimer and Walt’s apparent opposition between the Israel Lobby or oil as motive, there is no reason the Bush II administration could not try to make Israel more secure AND try to get better control of Iraq’s oil, while pursuing other “strategic interests” simultaneously. However, the chief goal of Mearsheimer and Walt was not to explain the motives for the Iraq war but to describe the “Israel Lobby”. Thus, it is likely unfair to expect a fully worked out account of motives for the war from them.

End of Part 1, Part 2 to follow.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Responsibility for North Korea's Nuclear Test

As has become so very typical, the Bush 43 administration and its defenders suggest that either 1) the Clinton policy is responsible for N. Korea's test, or 2) that their policy is certainly not to blame and no worse than Clinton's. Let's examine the history.

After seriously considering bombing N. Korea's nuclear facilities in 1994 Clinton decided that taking the risk that N. Korea might militarily retaliate against S. Korea was not wise. Seoul, the capital of S. Korea, is one of the smallest and most densely populated major cities (Greater Seoul area population 23 million) and is only 30 miles from the DMZ border with North Korea. Also, the U.S. had troops within shot of the DMZ. Moreover, such an action could provoke China into a reaction or, if N. Korea's government was to fall, destabilize the region sending thousands of refugees into China.

Clinton decided upon a policy of engagement and negotiation with N. Korea and this policy was enthusiastically supported by S. Korea's government which was similarly engaged at the time. The Clinton administration negotiated an Agreed Framework with N. Korea; the North agreed to freeze plutonium reprocessing and in return "the United States agreed to provide heavy fuel oil... and to assume leadership of a multinational project to build two 'proliferation resistant' light water reactors." ( See Jonathan Pollack, "The United States, North Korea, and the End of the Agreed Framework", Naval War College Review, Summer 2003, Vol. LVI, No. 3, pp. 11-49) As part of this serious attempt to engage with the North, Secretary of State Madeline Albright visited Pyongyang and a possible visit by President Clinton for December 2000 was also planned. The Agreed Framework was flawed (what possible agreement between opponents wouldn't be?) and consideration was given to renegotiations to tighten it up.

While there were suspicions of cheating a 1999 U.S. inspection found no evidence of nuclear activity. (Many pseudo-conservatives, in their habitually mistrustful and fear-inspiring manner, allege the North cheated in 1998 as did American Enterprise Institute "scholar" Danielle Pletka on Bill Maher's TV show of October 13, 2006. I'm not aware of evidence supporting this claim but pseudo-conservative ideologues seldom allow evidence to infringe upon their fear-mongering.) Pollack (p. 24) stated: "During 1999 and 2000 had begun to receive scattered reports that North Korea was exploring a covert nuclear enrichment option [an alternative to plutonium reprocessing] in evident violation of its commitments under the Agreed Framework. But the evidence was far from definitive." As far as Pollack is concerned there was no definitive evidence that the North had broken its agreements between 1994 and 2002.

Enter George W. Bush on January 20, 2001. Like typical hyper-suspicious, mistrustful, "hard-line" pseudo-conservatives the Bush 43 administration believed Clinton "had been far too solicitous of North Korea" (Pollack, p. 24). On March 7 Bush met with President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea and his hostile and mistrustful "remarks were a sharp and humiliating rebuke to Kim Dae-jung, and the ROK president reportedly took ample offense. North Korea wasted little time in reacting to the president’s statement, canceling ministerial-level talks scheduled for Seoul the following week and harshly criticizing what it characterized as 'hostile' U.S. policy. Pyongyang reiterated that it was 'fully prepared for both dialogue and war'(Pollack, p. 25)." In other words, because South Korean President Kim Dae-jung was looking forward to continuing the Clinton policy of engagement with the North, he found Bush's hostility to and dismissiveness of the policy offensive. Another example of Bush's arrogance toward even our allies immediately upon taking office. Note that this was "achieved" only about a month and a half after Bush 43's inauguration.

Although Secretary of State Colin Powell apparently hoped to continue Clinton's policy he soon got the message that this was not to be. As is so typical of Bush, now their policy toward N. Korea was that the North had to first demonstrate its good behavior to the Bush administration's satisfaction before further dialogue could occur. This is an example of why pseudo-conservatives can't do foreign policy. They somehow think haughtiness, the cold shoulder, and aggressive public statements will bring another sovereign nation to heel. Actually, I'm not sure they do believe this; its possible such attitudes are meant to prove to their domestic pseudo-conservative base that they are sufficiently "tough". Perhaps it is more strut and swagger for the home audience.

Pollack wrote (p. 26): "In the absence of substantial changes in North Korean policy, the United States would not undertake major new initiatives with the North, let alone be drawn into open-ended negotiations akin to those of the Clinton administration, which many senior officials judged demeaning and simply not worth the effort. Improved relations with the North would not be a high priority for the new administration; the DPRK had first to address major U.S. policy concerns before the United States would pursue improved relations. Pending future developments, U.S. policy toward North Korea was on hold."

So pseudo-conservative "policy" toward the North was: "talk tough", "make demands" and then "turn one's back" and wait for the North korean government to comply. Pollack continued (p. 26): "North Korean officials took undoubted offense at the sharp turn away from Clinton administration policy and at the president’s clear distaste for Kim Jong Il. Kim nonetheless sought to keep the door ajar to the United States, informing a visiting European Union delegation in May 2001 that North Korea would maintain its promised moratorium on missile testing until 2003. He reiterated this pledge in a second meeting with Russian president Putin in August. U.S. officials took note of these pledges but judged them an insufficient basis for high-level exchanges.... The Bush administration, seeing no particular need or incentive to invest major time and effort in conciliating the North, had opted for a waiting game with Pyongyang (emphasis added)." More "arrogance" in place of policy toward N. Korea.

Finally, in his State of the Union address of January 29, 2002, President Bush publicly labeled the North Korean government as a charter member of "the axis of evil." In other documents the administration said other highly threatening things applicable to North Korea. Pyongyang's "officials had long and assiduously followed U.S. security policy debate, with North Korean media paying exacting attention to various U.S. policy documents.... Once the renewed nuclear crisis unfolded fully in October, North Korean statements regularly cited President Bush’s inclusion of the North in the “axis of evil” and the administration’s preemption doctrine as virtual declarations of war that justified the DPRK’s withdrawal from the NPT.... However, North Korea did not close all doors to discussions with Washington. On 31 July 2002, Secretary of State Powell met briefly in Brunei with the DPRK minister of foreign affairs, Paik Nam Sun (Pollack p. 28)."

But, in the summer of 2002, there was increasing evidence that the North Koreans had resumed their nuclear program. What a shock! We insult them, repudiate the previous policy, refuse to negotiate with them and call them names before the world and what do they do? Instead of bowing and scraping and begging the Bush 43 administration's forgiveness, they start up their nuclear program again.

When Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi had announced a visit to Pyongyang in September "President Bush personally briefed the [Japanese] prime minister on North Korea’s nuclear activities during the latter’s visit to the United Nations on 12 September. According to one Japanese analyst, the prime minister was 'shocked at the harshness' of the president’s comments. (Pollack, p. 34)." In October Assistant Secretary of State Kelly went to Pyongyang to personally confront the North Koreans about U.S. intelligence that the North had resumed its nuclear program. During this meeting the North Koreans made it clear they were indeed proceeding with a highly enriched uranium program and that they considered the the Agreed Framework "nullified". Secretary Kelly stated that the North Korean Minister "tried to blame the situation on U.S. policy under the current administration.... (Pollack, p. 36)" Of all the nerve; these commies will say anything!

After Kelly's visit the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that said (Pollack, p. 37): "American characterizations of North Korea as part of the 'axis of evil' and as a prospective target for 'preemptive nuclear strike' were 'a gross violation of the basic spirit of the Nonproliferation Treaty, [and] reduced the inter-Korean joint declaration on denuclearization to a dead document.' The statement concluded, 'Nobody would be so naïve as to think that the DPRK would sit idle under such a situation.'" But apparently, if the Bush 43 administration thought about it at all, they were "so naïve as to think that the DPRK would sit idle under such a situation."

The North Koreans, however, did make an offer (Pollack, pp. 37-8): "'The DPRK, with greatest magnanimity, clarified that it was ready to seek a negotiated settlement of this issue on the following three conditions: firstly, if the U.S. recognizes the DPRK’s sovereignty; secondly, if it assures the DPRK of nonaggression; and thirdly, if the U.S. does not hinder the economic development of the DPRK. . . . [T]he DPRK considers that it is a reasonable and realistic solution to the nuclear issue to conclude a nonaggression treaty between the DPRK and the U.S. . . . If the U.S. legally assures the DPRK of nonaggression, including the nonuse of nuclear weapons against it by concluding such a treaty, the DPRK will be ready to clear the former of its security concerns'.... However, the administration seemed determined to deny Pyongyang the satisfaction of a direct response to this or to succeeding statements, which senior officials contended would reward North Korea for its violations of the Agreed Framework and related nonproliferation commitments."

Am I the only one that finds this attitude on the part of the Bush 43 administration remarkable? They abruptly reverse the previous administration's policy, they make public statements calling the N. Korean regime names, they insist that N. Korea must take unspecified actions to prove it has changed its ways, and then they turn their back on them and virtually refuse to have meaningful dialogue with them. However, when the N. Koreans announce a proposal for negotiations Bush 43 refused to answer because that would be to "reward North Korea". To this observer this is a thoroughly bankrupt policy that reduces itself to "tough" posturing and absolutely nothing else; a case study in why pseudo-conservatives can't do foreign policy. Please note, dear reader, one doesn't have to like the N. Korean regime or approve of it; one merely has to recognize that we must take all necessary action to try to stop them from proliferating nuclear weapons.

Pollack reasonably observed (p. 38-40): "The administration also faced a profound disparity in its strategies and policies toward Iraq and North Korea, the only two countries identified as “rogue states” in the September 2002 national security strategy document. Despite North Korea’s far greater military power, its vastly more developed nuclear and missile capabilities, the immediate threat that North Korea posed to U.S. military personnel deployed on the Korean peninsula, and its widespread sales of ballistic missiles in highly volatile regions, President Bush continued to insist that Iraq represented a “unique” case that had to assume precedence in U.S. military plans...." Read the latter statement carefully. Instead of dealing with the most threatening opponent who really had a nuclear program Bush 43 insisted upon focusing on Iraq.

Pollack continued (p. 40): "In the aftermath of this open contention, the administration soon made its decision: the United States, with the concurrence of the ROK and Japan, opted to suspend further heavy-fuel-oil deliveries to the DPRK [November 16, 2002]. This decision proved fateful. A week later Pyongyang declared that the Agreed Framework had collapsed, arguing that the deliveries were the only portion of the agreement that the United States had ever carried out."

And Pollack described the denouement (p. 41): "[North Korea's] 12 December [2002]announcement initiated a succession of audacious, unilateral actions that in a matter of weeks began to roll back much of North Korea’s eight years of nuclear restraint. In rapid succession, North Korea requested on 13 December that the IAEA withdraw its seals and cameras from the DPRK’s declared facilities; stated on 19 December that the Agreed Framework now existed 'in name only'; removed or otherwise disabled the locks and monitoring equipment at the reactor, cooling pond, fuel fabrication plant, and reprocessing facility—all between 21 and 24 December; announced the intended expulsion of the IAEA inspectors on 27 December, even as the inspectors reported that two thousand fresh fuel rods had already been loaded into the reactor; and notified the IAEA of its intention to reactivate its fuel reprocessing facility within several months, purportedly to ensure the safety of spent fuel rods that would be removed and stored following their use in the reactivated reactor and (once completed) in the larger reactors, where construction was expected to resume.... On 10 January 2003, the DPRK announced its 'automatic and immediate' effectuation of its withdrawal from the NPT and its 'complete free[dom] from the restrictions of the safeguard agreement with the IAEA'(emphasis added)."

Based upon this information it seems this is just another example of the Bush 43 administration's very incompetent policy contributing to the worsening of a very significant world problem and then, once N. Korea tests a nuclear weapon, insisting publicly that the bad outcome was not their responsibility but that of the prior administration or the evil irrationality of the N. Koreans. Although it has usually been the Republicans accusing the Democrats of failing to be "accountable" and take responsibility for their errors, the Republicans seem to be competing to be "poster child" for the practitioners of the "Failure to Be Accountable" lobby.

Out of the Mouths of Boobs?

I know I'm late to jump on this particular Bushism but it's remarkable how unconsciously revealing it is. In his September 6 interview with Katie Couric Bush said, "one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." Of course, since the president "doesn't do nuance", it's fruitless to wonder what he might come up with if he reflected upon his own statement and wondered why he might be having this difficulty. He's had almost five years to demonstrate to the American people precisely what this connection is, why should he have such difficulty?

Of course, after three and a half years of pursuing this horrendously expensive and lethal pseudo-conservative adventure, his policies have succeeded in creating a connection that, to begin with, was not there. In my immediately previous post I commented upon Robert Pape's book, Bombing to Win, and his contention that "both publics and policy makers should stop thinking of coercion as a silver bullet to solve intractable foreign policy dilemmas. Coercion is no easier, only sometimes cheaper, and never much cheaper, than imposing demands by military victory."

Cheap? A recent estimate I read suggested the Iraq war could cost $1 TRILLION. If you want to become severely depressed think about what just a sliver of that might have done to improve our inner cities, our homeland security, our independence of foreign oil, our health insurance mess, our public education system, our provision of college loans to working families, etc. How can it be that the American people willingly allow the government to spend truly massive amounts of money on "blowing stuff up", but apparently believe that we "can't afford" to do important things? Oh well, I know the answer: the pseudo-conservative right in alliance with the business lobby, have convinced us that spending upon PUBLIC goods is vile "socialism" while blowing stuff up and legislating for business interests is "Americanism".

Pseudo-conservatives also are successful in convincing us that "coercing" opponents will be "quick". Hmmmm. The Vietnam war lasted at least 10 years, depending upon when you place its beginning, and the 2003 Iraq war is already longer than World War II and the Civil War.

And how about "lethal"? The latest Johns Hopkins Iraq Mortality Survey suggested a LOW estimate of over 400,000 deaths. If we ignore the high and median estimates and settle upon the LOW estimate, how does this "Christian nation" respond to having been responsible for the death of 400,000 people? I guess the death of a single person is a "tragedy" but the deaths of 400,000 is a "statistic".

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Why Pseudo-Conservatives Can't Do Foreign Policy, Part 2

Pseudo-conservative's most frequently recommended tool of foreign policy is military threat or military action. In a recent post I listed some recent modest proposals of the radical right: "Let's bomb Iran." "Let's call North Korea names and wait to see what happens." "Let's rattle our sabres at China." "Let's invade Iraq and transform the whole Middle East." Sometimes it seems to me that almost no one ever examines the bases for these extremely intransigent, bullying proposals. However, Robert Pape wrote a book called Bombing to Win in which he examined under what conditions bombing campaigns have been successful. Thus, he studied (p. 1-2), "why some states decide to change their behavior when threatened with military consequences and other states do not.... This book seeks to determine the conditions under which coercion has succeeded and failed in the past in order to predict when it is likely to succeed and fail in the future.... States involved in serious international disputes commonly engage in passionate debate over the utility of military (and nonmilitary) instruments of coercion. Leaders are often drawn to military coercion because it is perceived as a quick and cheap solution to otherwise difficult and expensive international problems."

This last point is crucial. Many leaders fool themselves and the public into thinking military coercion will be "quick and cheap." Certainly this was the expectation of the George W. Bush administration regarding Saddam in 2003. In a recent NPR discussion of his book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold, Frank Rich expressed some bewilderment about precisely why the Bush II administration chose war against Iraq. But he did say that one reason was because they thought it would be "easy." Apparently they failed to seriously consider who would govern in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam was accomplished. Pape observed (p. 2): "As the American public's willingness to bear military costs declines, the role of air power in overseas conflicts is increasing because it can project force more rapidly and with less risk than manpower and more formidably than naval power."

After a characteristically careful empirical study of the 40 cases of "coercive air campaigns" between 1917 and 1991 (see table 2, p. 52) Pape drew some conclusions (p. 314): "Can air power alone do the job? The answer is no. First, coercion is very hard. It hardly ever succeeds by raising costs and risks to civilians. When coercion does work, it is by denying the opponent the ability to achieve its goals on the battlefield. However, even denial does not always work. Sometimes states can succeed only by decisively defeating their opponents." And the latter is usually neither quick or cheap. Pape continued (p. 315): "The cases studied in this book show that the requirements for successful coercion are very high. Even when coercion succeeds, moreover, it rarely gains very much.... Although planners often excuse the failure of coercive programs by citing political constraints and operational problems (e.g., weather), in fact, these seldom crippled the effectiveness of coercive air campaigns." In other words, despite the frequently heard complaint that it was because of political constraints that we lost in Vietnam, this is not the case. One wonders what the excuse will be in Iraq.

Pape (p. 318) also examined the belief following the Gulf War that "strategic bombing was the decisive factor." This has received a big boost from the belief that precision guided missiles have the ability "to destroy strategic targets more easily and more rapidly than nonprecision weapons." (Shades of Don Rumsfeld and his Revolution in Military Affairs?) Pape claimed that "this enhanced efficiency makes little difference to the coercive effectiveness of any of these strategies."

Pape asked (p. 326-9): "If strategic bombing doesn't work why does it persist...? First, it serves the bureaucratic interests of air forces. Second, both civilian and military leaders want cheap and easy solutions to difficult international confrontations. Third, ignorance allows strategic bombing enthusiasts to sway policy decisions with unsupported assertions. Fourth, deliberate obfuscation of the brutality of strategic-bombing campaigns to shield them from criticism also impedes evaluation.... Reviewing literally thousands of planning documents for the preparation of this book, I found innumerable studies of how forces would be applied to destroy a given target set but no document, at any level of government, of more than a page to explain how destroying the target was supposed to activate mechanisms (popular revolt, coup, social disintegration, strategic paralysis, or even thwarting enemy military strategy) which would lead to the desired political change.... The key problem in coercion is the validity of the mechanisms that are supposed to translate particular military effects into political outcomes."

In other words, Pape found that when it came to coercive air bombing campaigns and their putative ability to actually coerce opponents to make the political changes we might seek, the emperor had no clothes. Not only are these military strategies emphatically not "cheap" and "easy"--and who could doubt this after the 2003 Iraq war--they are quite frequently ineffective. Moreover, apparently little energy has been expended explaining precisely how destroying specific enemy assets could lead to the kinds of political capitulation our "coercive" strategy is seeking. As Pape concluded (p. 331): "Finally, both publics and policy makers should stop thinking of coercion as a silver bullet to solve intractable foreign policy dilemmas. Coercion is no easier, only sometimes cheaper, and never much cheaper, than imposing demands by military victory." Sounds like if we don't want to go to the lengths we did in defeating Germany and Japan perhaps we should start to give more attention to those more complicated foreign policy strategies that require resources, wisdom and patience. Since Pape published this study in 1996 I can only imagine his reaction while witnessing the "debate" that led to the Iraq war.

However, it must be acknowledged that the pseudo-conservative party of fear has very substantial psychological advantages because it is hawking (pun intended) a simplistic and highly emotional message, as opposed to a complex, nuanced message requiring much patience. One wonders if there is no end to the utility of the fear tactics the pseudo-conservative right has been effectively using since the late 1940s: "The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!" Or, substitute "terrorists" for "Russians" as needed. In a future post I will elaborate on the pseudo-conservative use of the "Hit Them and They'll Stop Misbehaving Theory."