days are here again at National Review. For forty some years,
the editors and writers of that august journal have wanted wars
and were happiest when they had one. If one ended, they promptly
demanded another one. Of course the Cold War was a glorious time
for them, partly because of its seeming permanence; but they preferred
hot wars, even if they had to spend much time denouncing the conduct
of a war, as for example in the case of the Vietnam War, once they
had one in hand.
months ago, I had some fun telling
part of the history of warmongering at the National
Review. This was at a time when the editors and
writers were advertising the many advantages of war
with China. It's just as well they didn't get their
wish. Had that war been going when the WTC crimes took
place, we might have had an unwanted and unnecessary
test of the famous two-and-half-wars-at-a-time doctrine.
would we have gotten the extra half-war, so that the
test could have been truly scientific? Such a question
might trouble the ordinary mortal. No worries: at NR
there are enough war plans and proposals ready and waiting
to keep Jenghiz
Khan, Napoleon, and several other famous conquerors
working round the clock just to stay on schedule.
SOMETHING THAT DIDN'T CHANGE ON 9/11
popular cliché has it that "everything changed" on September
11. It might be useful, sometime, for someone to draw
up lists of things that changed and things that didn't,
but I put that to one side. In terms of basic attitude
and philosophy, nothing changed at NR.
Hearing their country call them to their task, then,
the NR heavies began issuing demands, giving
no quarter, but seldom – to anyone's knowledge – actually
volunteering for frontline combat. Mr. Ledeen called
for world revolution; Mr. Hanson and others rediscovered
the joys and necessity of Total War, although Hanson
tried to father the concept on the ancient Greeks. Mr.
Lowry sang the praises of deficit spending – "there's
a war on, you know" – deriding President Eisenhower
for having worried about them. Everyone signed on for
torture, although on that front they were somewhat shown
up by Alan "Bamboo Shoots" Dershowitz of great legal-philosophical
EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES
to be brief, NR has been in appallingly great
form for several months. They will be able to issue
a giant Warmonger's Reader if the "war" ever
ends; but then again, why should it? Practice is premise,
as one historian used to say. Beneath all the rhetoric
from NR lies the assumption that war is the natural
state of Man – the sort of nonsense that Teddy Roosevelt
and similar militarists in Europe were turning out a
hundred years ago. Somehow a colossal program rests
on this – and perhaps a few other postulates – a program
of unending world-improvement undertaken by the imperial
Boy Scouts with their know-how, can-do, and flexible
international law made to order.
is behind it all the way, however, and the lads have
gotten up to much mischief in the last few months. Thus,
Michael Novak enjoins us to crusade for Islam
but against particular bad Muslims, of which there is
a long list, whole countries of them, in fact. In all
apparent seriousness, Novak
finds a charter for this crusade in the Declaration
luck, the U.S. is fighting for "FOUR UNIVERSAL LIBERTIES
which are also MUSLIM LIBERTIES." These are the Muslims'
right to worship "without terror or coercion,"
the "liberty to study, learn, and inquire, and...
to write and speak," "freedom from want,"
and "liberty from torture, tyranny, and arbitrary
autocratic government," all these things – and
here is the kicker – "everywhere in the world"! [Novak's
capitals and italics]
Franklin, and how is your Dog Fala?
crusade is already a fairly tall order. But it gives
you a good reason not to nod off when told that the
ideological features of the present imperial order –
Wilsonianism, universal New Dealism, and the like –
are of great importance.
Lowry is made of sterner stuff and goes the extra mile
into outright "nation-building." (I guess Leggos
weren't enough of a challenge.) Of course, this isn't
Wilsonianism, Lowry tells us, because he only wishes
to build nations where it is possible, which is quite
a relief to hear. The hopeless cases like Afghanistan
should get a nice pro-Western despotism, but Iraq has
a great future ahead of it.
muses, encourage revolution in Iraq, but that would
be messy and leave things unsettled. No: "The alternative
is for the US to invade, and with the assistance of
the United Nations, forge a post-Saddam regime." Well,
that looks easy enough, to be sure. The most direct
path to needed reform: Total War, Unconditional Surrender,
a new Marshall Plan. Does this mean we can be the greatest
used to be that you could discourage an interventionist
by pointing out that his goals could only be realized
by replaying World War II. This is apparently now taken
to be a plus.
have saved the best until last. I refer of course to
James D. Miller, who
wants to invade the world. The late Murray Rothbard
essay of that title, a reductio ad absurdum
of Neo-Conservative foreign policy discourse.1 But now reality outruns
parody and much of the US Establishment is open to invading
the world. (One can only hope that administration planners
aren't quite as over-the-top as their friends at NR.)
you probably don't believe that anyone really wants
to invade the world, let us look deeper. Miller supposes
that the usual rogue states are plotting day and night
to do us harm. This seems a manageable threat, to the
extent it is even true, one that could easily be met
with the colossal "defense" capabilities the US already
that will never do. If we wait, some terrible dictator
might acquire atomic weapons, and "[h]is ability to
hurt us will effectively put him beyond our military
reach." Meddling, interference, and good old asymmetrical
warfare (the new buzzword) would go by the board. The
US state might, out of prudence if not good sense, actually
have to mind its own business. What a horrifying prospect.
has a solution to recommend. We must demand that, "countries
like Iraq, Iran, Libya, and North Korea make no attempt
to acquire weapons of mass destruction. We should further
insist on the right [!] to make surprise inspections
of these countries to insure that they are complying....
What if these nations refuse our demands? If they refuse,
we should destroy their industrial capacity and capture
their leaders." [My italics]
"True, the world's cultural elites would be shocked
and appalled if we took preventive military action against
countries that are currently doing us no harm."
[Again my italics] Very shockable, those Euro-Wimps.
so, this would appear to be the naked language of empire.
Miller has more. The US must draft a "treaty" the signatories
to which "will only trade with countries which have
signed the treaty" and "not trade with any country which
violates our policy on weapons proliferation." I suppose
this will be called, for the record, "free trade." The
economic side meets the ideological side in harmonious
giant state-sponsored cartel has arrived, the one only
dimly foreseen by Karl
Kautsky. This is entirely just, since it was advocates
of US imperialism who, in the 1890s, effectively invented
the "Marxist" theory of imperialism before the Marxists
had one.2 These American writers
claimed that capitalist "overproduction" made empire
the only long-run solution to America's problems. This
was bad economics but the ideological genealogy is important.
than quote Kipling, the poet of empire, on this auspicious
occasion, I leave the next-to-last word to The
the dictators of the world
fact it's giving orders
they can't afford to miss a word
guess we can't afford to miss one, either. Some people
have big plans for us – plans that will put an end
to our freedom, prosperity, and even our humanity. They
must be put back in their Eternal World War II theme
park. Our children's and grandchildren's future is in
the balance, not to mention a lot of other people's.
N. Rothbard, "Invade the World," in The
Irrepressible Rothbard (Burlingame, Ca.: Center
for Libertarian Studies, 2000), pp. 218-222.
Origins of the Federal Reserve," Quarterly
Journal of Austrian Economics, 2, 3 (Fall 1999),