Column: Pseudo-Americanism





Mr. Carpenter is working on a book about American demagoguery. He is a columnist for HNN.

In their seemingly hysterical rush to militarily confront an enemy who poses no imminent threat to U.S. national security, ultraconservatives once again are demonstrating that the real war in which they see themselves engaged is a domestic-not foreign-one. The old bugaboo of liberalism, born in the 1930s and nurtured publicly until the mid-1970s, may only draw a shallow breath every now and then, but the Right wants it dead, dead … definitely dead. Nothing less will do. This proposition, and only this, explains the otherwise inexplicable: the sudden urgency of a fighting war in the absence of a fight. Despite appearances, the Right's rush to confrontation isn't hysterical at all; it's methodical, premeditated, simply another chapter in its playbook of ever-escalating warfare against domestic opponents.

Although it has won virtually every major political battle during the last 30 years, total victory still eludes ultraconservatism. Right-wing ideology dominates the White House, Congress, Supreme Court, news media, corporate world, and the Boy Scouts. Yet as long as even one college professor professes a progressive thought in the classroom or print, as long as Ted Kennedy survives as the corporeal target he is, as long as there remains even a straggling band of anti-Right journalist-commentators, the seeds of a disagreeably persuasive opposition loom as an incubating threat.

Conservative extremists, modern conservatives, right wingers, The Right, hardcore Republicans--call them what you will--cannot and will not tolerate so much as an inkling of dissent because theirs is a fundamentally paranoid and authoritarian ideology. These appellations rest far from any fresh interpretation; they were once commonplace coins of the terminological realm. Critical theorist Theordor Adorno et al first popularized the latter--authoritarianism--in the 1950s, in a nearly 1000-page tome, The Authoritarian Personality. Not many years later came historian Richard Hofstadter's essays, "The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt" and "The Paranoid Style."

None of these works receives much attention by historians these days. Adorno's volume was, it's true, methodologically flawed; its conclusions tended to support premises; and, in time, Hofstadter's insights went the way of most "status-anxiety" theories: straight south. In addition, upon discovering and then doggedly promoting personal "agency," historians became suspicious of mass-movement theories in general and, perhaps most of all, there's always been a professional instinct to discount anything not published in the last six hours. Nevertheless, the twosome's key contentions remain demonstrably valid. Those of a marked rightward bent fawn over authority and authority figures, love to exhibit their manly "toughness," view conformity of thought as a sure sign of social stability, and hawk patriotism not just as a civic virtue, but something they purport to have invented themselves.

All of which leads back to the initial proposition. The right-wing crowd no more believes Iraq is an immediate threat to the United States than does Noam Chomsky, and its utter lack of damning evidence to the contrary is proof positive. The cooked-up conflict is, however, a marvelous opportunity to bash the hell out of anyone who surfaces to question the administration's designs and further solidify its ideological domestic chokehold. The calculated strategy is akin to Mao's glorious Cultural Revolution: Come, all ye dissenters, announced Mao, and we shall reason together. When they came he then chopped them off at the knees--and neck. They had shown their true colors, "antiChinesism."

Ultraconservative think tanks and foundations that regularly feed raw political meat via fax machines each day to the likes of propagandists such as Rush Limbaugh are in ideological overdrive and loving every blessed minute of it. Is Saddam Hussein their main target? Hardly. It is, rather, the Al Gores, public intellectuals, academics, and probing journalists--those who might have accepted Mao's invitation to help purify through independent thought the cultural heights of communist perfection. Vocal opponents of today's concocted war are the enemy: culprits of domestic discord; disloyal, unAmerican types who for reasons never quite delineated would, as the Right advertises, prefer to invite Saddam to tea parties at Harvard than disarm the schmuck. They, like Mao's opponents, must be ridiculed, despised, and ultimately silenced. The Right holds no truck with the stubbornly unindoctrinated.

What Hofstadter labeled a "pseudoconservative" (because of the True Believer's radicalism--a wild departure from reasoned, traditional, and authentic conservatism) has by now evolved into your garden-variety conservative. The internal party revolution--the process of ideological cleansing--is complete. The Far Right controls the party's ideas, ideology, and agenda. Yet Hofstadter's principal contribution to the literature on then-fringe pseudoconservatism augurs more pertinent and ominous than ever. It was that of a paradox. The pseudoconservative of muscular Americanism, he argued, is in fact the living antithesis of true American ideals. He is "a man who, in the name of upholding traditional American values and institutions and defending them against more or less fictitious dangers, consciously or unconsciously aims at their destruction." To reiterate, these are folks of spooky paranoia and disturbing authoritarian tendencies.

Indeed, on how many occasions have we witnessed these political pathologies of antiAmerican ideals under Bush II alone? The Oval Office has perfected the creation of fictitious dangers only to detract from real problems which it has no answers to, and no interest in (exploding deficits, an ICU economy, a certifiably insane destructive tax policy, increasing poverty, swelling ranks of the uninsured … need I go on?). It reacts with maniacal anger and unprecedented authoritarianism at those who dare question its insularly derived policies on both foreign and fiscal matters. It defies the coequal branch of Congress. It "disses" federal courts as obtrusive, irrelevant snoopers. The vice president arrogantly disdains outsiders who believe they have a right to know who's dictating national energy policies. Attorney General John Ashcroft almost daily whittles away at yet another American constitutional guarantee.

These are not the exploits of what made America great and vibrant. Our greatness was, and still is--though hanging by a slim thread--the tolerance, if not grudging encouragement of, dissent from on-high governmental dictates and hubris.

In endless streams of rapid-response diatribes by self-appointed right-wing censors against any who publicly question Bush II's divine right to do what it damn well pleases at home or abroad, a favored tactic is to paint the opposition as spineless, closet Marxists who lack the Right's admirable Rambo-American "toughness." To boot, it is claimed the opposition is full of America-haters. Yet it's those still residing in the increasingly impotent and dwindling camp of the Left who ardently believe in "tough love" when it comes to dubious American ventures. Those on the Left don't pat the power elite on the head and tell them everything's OK. We demand reasonable answers in the face of impetuous behavior. We demand honest accountability. That's not blaming America. That's the genuine American Way.


© Copyright 2002 P. M. Carpenter

Mr. Carpenter's column is published weekly by History News Network and buzzflash.com.


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


jack simon peter - 11/11/2008

Hi,
This is Jack. The work done by him was exactly correct as not to do any politics with out the copy of his authoritarian spectre handy. As this could be a nice thing.
_________
Jack

manitoba drug rehab


Bryan Ogburn - 1/16/2003

Damn! What an excellent analysis. I will be back...often!
BRY (Austin, Texas)


Alec Lloyd - 10/14/2002

Mr. Adams, that is an impressive leap of logic. You’ve gone from Weimar Germany to the dangers of gun accidents. What this has to do with establishing a police state is beyond me.

Is it your contention that the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy is planning on accidental gun deaths as part of its integrated takeover of American government? I’m confused.

Again, the right wing bugbear is a convenient one for fundraising letters, but it lacks any hard evidence.

Explain to me how a conservative platform based on lowering taxes and preserving gun rights results in dictatorship?

And since you brought it up, accidental gun deaths rank behind autos, falls, ingested solid or liquid poisons, drowing, burns and suffocation in terms of morality. In raw terms, 600 gun deaths are insignificant compared to the 87,100 lives lost to the above causes. Indeed, the next highest on the list, suffocation by ingested object, accounted for 3,400 deaths. It isn’t even close.

One would expect a government bent on broadening its own powers to harp on such dangers as a means of curtailing individual rights and establishing more authority. So far, I don’t see it.

Plese enlighten me by showing the connection between preserving the right to bear arms and dictatorship.


Pierre S Troublion - 10/14/2002


While I by no means support "rightwing conspiracies", lawsuits and arrogant lawyers ARE a disease in the U.S.. Recall, if you were paying attention at the time, the many decades of Congress-person time wasted by the Hypocrite-Republican lawyers on the Judiciary Committee which gave us All Monica All the Time. Imagine if that time had instead been spent, for example, on taking concerted action to get the United Nations to send inspectors back into Iraq with an armed escort THEN (in 1998-99). Two wounds now inflicted upon our Constitution and its framers peace in the grave might have been avoided.

The solution to corporate money in political campaigns, to voter ignorance and apathy, and the suppression of third parties and civil rights need not be the preservation of a legal plutocracy. There are some subtleties here about right to sue versus the economic waste of frivolous suing, but they pale beside the fundamental problem of lawyers fleecing us all, rich and poor. Shakespeare, Karl Marx, and the "laissez faire" billboards: all come to similar conclusions about lawyers. America would be better off for sure if we could stop spending many times as much on lawyers as any other civilized country. The same goes for handguns and SUVs, but that's no reason not to cut down on legal parasites as well, just because some "conservatives" happen to be on the side of our national interest (for a change).

Pierre


Dave Gene - 10/14/2002

That's just silly...


Dave - 10/14/2002

That's just silly...


s vaughan - 10/14/2002

We need to add one more right to the endangered list: the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances, i.e. the right to sue in courts of law. Has anyone seen those billboards that read: "Lawsuits: America's Disease"? Part of the rightwing conspiracy to horde wealth and power. As governor of Texas, George W. Bush signed legislation limiting awards to plaintiffs and legislation prohibiting Texas cities from going after the gun industry in the courts (as has San Francisco and a number of other cities across the nation). These laissez faire ideologues are boxing in the poor and middle income people, and dissenters -- and they have railroaded Congress into giving the administration a blank check to wage war against Iraq. Never mind -- this group of hooligans would have done that without Congressional approval.


Al Czervikjr - 10/13/2002

Mr. Adams,

I am actually not much of a fan of Ashcroft. However, when you go so far as to describe him as "Fuhrer," make allusions to a "latter day Reichstag fire," and talk of constitutional scholars being rounded up and jailed, you engage in such a level of hyperbole and paranoia as to threaten the credibility of any legitimate points that you may have.

Regards,

AC


Bill Heuisler - 10/12/2002

Mr. Sternstein,
Thank you for exposing a contrarian conservative to Rosenbaum's laser-logic. I am now a fan; he makes me yearn for the sepia-toned polemics of my youth when arguments were about making our beloved United States a better place.
Best, Bill Heuisler


Jerry Sternstein - 10/12/2002

Mr. Carpenter speaks of the"increasingly impotent and dwindling camp of the Left," and he appears to hold the ascendant and authoritarian Right, now led by those present -day "enemies of the people", George W. Bush and John Ashcroft, in league with oppressive, intolerant, ultra-conservatives of all stripes, to be responsible for its decay.

A far better explanation, however, can be found in the character of the Left in America today, a Left in the thrall of a self-hating, anti-Americanism, rather than a Left which is a victim of right-wing zealots. Such a view is brilliantly presented in this recent article by Ron Rosenbaum, on "Left Wing Idiocy." (http://www.newyorkobserver.com/pages/frontpage3.asp)

A life-long, left-liberal journalist and historian (see his book, Explaining Hitler), Rosenbaum, like many thoughtful people on the Left, is saying goodbye to a Left that has lost touch with reality. It is no longer, he explains, the humane Left he once believed in. It is now a mindless, irrational Left which celebrates women who dress up as chic suicide bombers, a Left which practices moral equivalence between dictatorships and democracies, a Left which rationalizes mass murderers, brutal tyrants, and terrorists, as long as they are seen as being motivated by "good intentions." And it is a Left which believes that those who died on 9/11, died because of America's sins against the oppressed of the world. It is an "idiotic" Left, says Rosenbaum, a "deluded" Left, a Left made up of people who never allow "the hideous facts of history to impinge upon their insulated ideology."

In other words, it is a Left much like that reflected in P.J. Carpenter's essay.




Sam Adams - 10/12/2002


A sign of true and honorable leadership is a willingness to admit mistakes (e.g. Gulf of Tonkin). Since Führer means leader in German, I accept the first half of your proposed correction, with the following essential proviso: To apply it to the senator, the word "Führer" must be somehow semantically stripped of all Nazi connotations, for they cannot apply to one who so forcefully resisted the stampede, this past week, to pile up tinder for a latter day Reichstag fire, instead vigorously defending the constitutional independence of our national legislature by opposing the shortsighted surrender of its constitutionally-mandated war power to a manifestly inept president.

I will, however, leave to legal scholars the question of an historically appropriate label for the current attorney general. Hopefully they can find something fitting (before they are rounded up and carted off to jail).

Sam Adams


Al Czervikjr - 10/11/2002

Funny how you say "God Bless" Sen. Byrd and then refer to Ashcroft as "Fuhrer." Given the fact that it was Byrd, not Ashcroft, who was a former bigwig in the Klan, I think he is probably more deserving of the "Fuhrer" title than Ashcroft is.


Sam Adams - 10/11/2002


Are you saying that all gun owners behave like mass murderers ?
Strange analogy


Chris Messner - 10/11/2002

You've picked a poor example to illustrate your point; here we have a lone man, with a rifle, whose killed 6 and shot 8 (9?), with all the power of the local, state, and federal forces after him, and at least at this time they have had no luck in stopping him. And you say that a loaded rifle at home would have no use against Ashcroft!

In no new way has congress conceded power to the president; as worded at any time congress could step in and stop the executive branch (don't forget it calls for all diplomatic measures expended first, doesn't say who determines); congress ceded this power when they granted the president power to act on the UN's behalf in the 1950's. He can send in military response to violations of UN resolutions without waiting for congress, which does apply here (even if the UN is to waffling to support itself).

Chris


Samuel Adams - 10/11/2002

RE: " If conservatives really want to establish a police state, why is one of their core issues preserving the right to keep and bear arms?"

Conservatives in Germany in 1932 didn't want the kind of police state they ended up with there either. There are such things as unintended consequences. Like the thousands who die every year in America from accidental gunshot wounds.

Dictatorship does not necessarily come clearly and cleanly, like a phalanx of black UN helicopters out of the sky. When, in a system of government based on checks and balances, one branch of government surrenders powerful authority to another, with scarcely a wimper of protest (e.g. by Senator Byrd, God bless the old geezer !) a big step has just been taken in the wrong direction. A loaded rifle at home would be about as much use against a Führer Ashcroft as it would be against the DC sniper.


Claire E. Teaplease - 10/11/2002

WHAT exactly is a "Bushhawk" ? A hawk that hides in the bush when a sparrow attacks its nest, and later runs out like a chicken squawking about the falling sky ?

WHAT is an "alternative non-militarist alternative" ?
Militarism ?

WHAT has Carpenter said that rules out the possibility of
opposing BOTH the anti-Saddam power-grab by Bush AND the
kneejerk all-wars-are-Vietnam "peace" movement, by endorsing
instead a constructive alternative of promoting democracy and supporting democratic movements throughout the Mideast ?


Orson Olson - 10/11/2002

Carpenter is simply WRONG WRONG WRONG!

The Bush' Hawks case is a revolutionary solution to a stagnant, politically, economically, and socially backward region of the world that engages in anti-western terrorism in reaction against the challenge of modernism. First Iraq, then revolution in Iran, and radical reform in Saudi, goes this dominos thesis. (See Bill Keller's profile of Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in New York Times [Sunday] Magazine in mid- or early-September)


But that's what makes the Party of Peace' and any figleaf of "progressivism" so reactionary and so painfully irrelevent! You'd think if they wanted to engage and defeat their oppoenets that they would study them--but no....

A TRUE Party of Peace would give the people a real, substantive alternative non-militarist alternative set of arguments that aims to tame terrorism and support fragile, nascent, pluralistic proto-democracies in the fringes of the Muslim world, i.e., Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan. But do they?

--Orson


J. Bartlett - 10/10/2002

I think Kayne and Carpenter are BOTH right. We have an economy and at least one political party based on perpetuating an addiction to cheap plentiful oil, and willing to prop up, and massively arm, any and all kinds of fanatics and tyrants in order to maintain the flow of that oil (except when they cross us, in which case John Wayne has to fire off his pistols and think it over later). There is ALSO a demagogical movement to resuscitate the John Wayne view of America and of American history from the disrepute into which it fell somewhere along the way between Robert MacNamara's Pentagon, Kent State, and My Lai. Hence the simultaneous attempts to disseminate (including via this website) a Rambo Stab-in-the-Back legend of the Vietnam War.

JB


Chris Osborne - 10/10/2002

As the Right itself has come under a degree of fire for their heavy monitoring of leftist professors in the wake of September 11th, most conservative online magazines have countered that criticism is not censorship--I guess we wouldn't know for sure until and if individuals such as Chomsky are actually clapped into jail for dissent. One could conceivably infer that the contemporary Left hates America, given that its' comments about this country do not reflect either the stereotype of the superpatriot or even a citizen who has a mixed assessment of the nation--but instead are entirely negative. The contemporary Left also seldom comments on boorish behavior by foreign states.
On the other hand, if we take Judge Robert Bork's "Slouching Towards Gomorrah" as any indicator of contemporary right wing thought, he did criticize the so-called Founding Fathers for not following Edmund Burke's idea of freedom spaces needing walls (in short, that certain behaviors and freedoms had to be off-limits to the citizenry lest society become morally depraved). Bork also faulted the American egalitarian ethic for ceaselessly striving after greater egalitarianism and always being restless amidst the existence of continuing inequalities. Bork feels the emphasis is unfortunate given the extreme difference in intellect and/or energy between individuals. Even Dinesh D'Souza subsequently attacked Bork for his negativism about the "mistakes" of the national Founders (too much space for individualism and egalitarianism). Thus there may indeed be a strain of the Right which actually dreads American values, the image of Rightists as quintessential patriots notwithstanding.


Evan Kayne - 10/9/2002

Mr. Carpenter, after reading your paranoid rant, I believe you may require some professional help. Perhaps psychiatrist Carol Wolman, M.D. can be persuaded to help you in the same way she's been helping Bush, Jr deal with his Oedipus complex. WAKE UP, MR. CARPENTER! Three thousand citizens of the U.S. (and the world) are dead, the result of a creepy fanaticism. The current administration is taking advantage of that situation to safeguard a cheap source of oil for the next 20 or so years. It is NOT an idealogical witch hunt with YOU as the game. If it seems like you have conservative tire tracks on your back, it's only because you're in the middle of the road, a road you currently share a 3000 mile long SUV on it's way to the gas station. Duh!


John G. Fought - 10/9/2002

The Adorno et al. approach to authoritarian personality research was all sticky with that Freudian stuff. A much sounder paradigm has been developed and applied over decades by Bob Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba and his students. Nobody should follow politics without a copy of his The Authoritarian Spectre handy. Many experts in social psychology consider his work the soundest and most replicable on this topic. It (and it almost alone) made me take the discipline seriously at last, that's how good it is. Do not miss the chart he derived from answers to his questionnaire by members of US state legislatures of both parties, ranging along his RWA scale from MA. Democrats all the way to the Republicans from Ole Miss.


Alec Lloyd - 10/8/2002

Show me the part of the cease-fire where Iraq gets to shoot at our planes in secure airspace on a daily basis.

I assume since you ignored my other points, you do not contest their accuracy.


Alec Lloyd - 10/8/2002

Wow, "conservative communism." A new oxymoron. What, exactly is a "conservative communist," a Republican who reads Trotsky? A Stalinist in golf shoes? A disciple of Che Guevara who supports the Second Amendment, perhaps?

No, that ain't no perfume I'm smelling...


Alec Lloyd - 10/8/2002

If conservatives really want to establish a police state, why is one of their core issues preserving the right to keep and bear arms?

Wouldn’t they want to deny the masses the means of resistance? As a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, I’m afraid I didn’t get that new memo you seem to be speaking of.

You may want to take something for that paranoia, though.


Chris Messner - 10/8/2002

Oh do please take a preemptive strike, and leave now. This kind of rabid alarmism is depressing, if you trully believe that anywhere else in the world you have more freedom than here do please seek it out.

Shall we now go into all the other assassinations in history, that may or may not be directly linked to sovereign states or stae leaders, to see just how bad we compare (Stalin killing Trotsky, Stalin's purges, the Soviets taking down varius east bloc uprisings in the 60's, Pol Pot's regime, just to name a few 'Marxist' examples off the top of my head). I guess you can take comfort that 'we only take down other governments, whereas the comunists turn on their internal opponents' (sarcasm intended), so you should be safer if you stay in country.

Chris


Chris Messner - 10/8/2002

"Actually Hussein, ( I am not defending his actions at all) did not violate treaty sanctions during the past ten years"

Actually, he did violate the argeement, since he began restricting access to sites the inspectors wanted to review; according to the cease-fire and subsequent agreed to terms he did not have this authority. As to your point that the US wouldn't allow inspectors to view sensitive areas, well that's why we don't sign or ratify certain treaties. If the US lost a war, and signed a cease fire or treaty of kind, then violated the terms thereof, the party with which we made the agreement would be within rights to take action of some kind.

As to the New Englanders supporting the IRA, how does this support your assertion that Hussein and Osama couldn't have been linked, because Osama doesn't like Hussein? I pointed out Osama's acceptance of monetary and material aid from the Saudi's, who he doesn't like, and you go to the IRA? (BTW, I happen to agree that we should go after the IRA as a terrorist organization, just like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc).

North Korea, while an oppressive regime, and while a supplier of black market arms, has not taken agressive action since 1953 and has engaged in discussions with South Korea about modernization and unification. It has much to answer for, but small steps forward (like the admittance of kidnapping of Japanese citizens)
are happening. Finally, the armistice ending combat in the Korean War did not specify a winner and loser, only a boundary, a cease-fire, and proposals for further resolution. There were not terms that North Korea has not lived up to, that would cause the UN, or US, to claim violations and take action. Not so the cease-fire that ended the Gulf War.

Saddam might not give a nuclear weapon to a terrorist group, but he would certainly provide the funds to a group who can source a WMD from the black market (Ex-soviet weapons, etc.), as long as he can deny and the world will waver. It took Hitler 3 years to weigh world appeasement (he reoccupied the Rhein in '36, then began his occupation of Europe with Poland in '39); while Hussein is no Hitler (sarcasm intended) we've given him 10 years of wavering to consider.

Chris


denny hodges - 10/8/2002

One need only look to Latin America and the many US sponsored coups and puppet governments installed in past decades to see what the left could be in for.
In 1973 after the assinsination of Chile's elected president Salvadore Allende, the right turned its fury not on armed oponents, but social workers, union organizers, leftist intellectuals, newspapers and writers critical of authority.
Check your passports, people, we could bethe next "disappeared." There is nothing more dangerous than a frightened and paranoid populace.


Beau Norton - 10/8/2002

Smell the coffee? That foul odor emanating from the ATTACK IRAQ SHOCK TROOPS isn't java....its the new perfume of conservative communism.


Alec Lloyd - 10/8/2002

Yes, always the oil. If we wanted the oil of Iraq, we could have it tomorrow.

Why is it immoral for the US to act in its national interest, but fine for everyone else like France and Russia, who simply want blood money for their weapons? Why are our motives constantly questioned, but France and Russia get a pass for wanted to collect on their arms debts? You’d think the idea that you can’t attack a brutal dictator because he hasn’t paid you for the jack boots and guns you sold him would be pretty low on the moral totem pole, yet it seems to trump human rights and international security.

Can you image the firestorm if WE took a similar line (“no you can’t attack them, they haven’t paid off the F-15s we sold them yet…”)? Amazing.

And now Bin Laden and Iraq are implacable enemies, eh? This is because both men would NEVER lie or dissemble their relationship, right? And Saddam could never have the level of sophistication to figure out “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Puh-leeze.

Hmmm, let’s look at some other arguments:

“Also didn't the UNSCOM inspectors destory around 98% of his capacity in 1998 to develop and produce these weapons?”

A couple of obvious points in refutation. UNSCOM has no idea how much capacity it destroyed because it never got to search the whole of Iraq. So in order to come to that conclusion, UNSCOM is forced to guess the size of the pie by what their duplicitous and hostile host let them see. And of course, being bureaucrats, they would NEVER inflate their effectiveness, right?

And how much is “98 percent,” anyway? Can that remaining 2 percent kill 1,000 or 100,000? Smallpox tends to spread itself, so it’s not like you’d need a lot of the stuff.

If I tell you I confiscated 98 percent of a sociopath’s ammo supply, would you feel safer? Utterly worthless measure.

That estimate is of course four years old. Saddam’s been working pretty hard on it, which brings us to another point:

“So since 1992 when we defeated Irag he has had plenty of oppurtunity to use his stock pile of WMD. Why now is he going to do it when in teh past decade he hasn't?”

Good question. A better question is why would a man bankrupt his country and starve his people to obtain weapons he isn’t planning on using? Doesn’t make much sense, does it? I mean, if he’s such a “rational actor,” why wouldn’t he dump the weapons program, let the inspectors in, and get filthy stinking rich off of oil revenues? Given our massive nuclear arsenal, he surely should expect that using weapons of mass murder would result in his own destruction. Therefore, beggaring his nation is a waste of time.

Unless he isn’t rational.

The fact that he hasn’t used them yet simply means that he either lacks the full inventory he requires or the final ingredients (read: enriched uranium) to complete his task. Either way, you’re gambling on the timetable of a madman.

Finally, you ask: “why now?”

Because now is the best time to act. The previous adminstration had no stomach for confrotation. 9/11 has changed the entire strategic situation. That is the herd of elephants in the living room the anti-war activists have to ignore in order to make their arguments.

Iraq’s days were numbered long ago, all 9/11 did was move up the timetable. Preparations for going into Iraq are more than a year old, but logistics and weather constraints have slowed the pace of operations. That is why we are moving now.

Is that clear enough?


Mihkail - 10/8/2002

"BTW, we did not 'defeat Iraq'; we signed a crease-fire with Iraq after defeating the forces in occupation of Kuwait; a cease-fire that had various conditions within it that Saddam has violated over the last 10 years."
Actually Hussein, ( I am not defending his actions at all) did not violate treaty sanctions during the past ten years. He allowed inspectors per the treaty it was US representatives in the UNSCOM delegation that forced his hand into evicting the inspectors. Now it comes down to a he said, she said with who did what during teh inspections. But the arguement can be made would any soveriegn nation want UN inspectors in the most sensitive areas of our military strong holds? The US wouldn't and I bet if we signed a treaty that allowed it we too would play the same game.
Regading the UN and how we can act as a security member and treatys and sanctions that other countries violate. It seems rather convienant that we support the UN when it comes to us having to invade one country or another. We use our status as a founding member to move military assests into soveriegn nations under the UN treaty that we saigned to form teh UN. But we neglected to ay our dues for the past ten or so years because we believe the UN is not looking after our best interests? ITs either you support UN snactions and reaies completely, which we don't. Or you don't support UN treaties which gets rid of our legal standing on invading countries when it suits our needs.
I am asking our government why it is one way before and now it is a differnet story now.


"This fact alone means the Gulf War has not ended (just as the Korean War has not), and based on the violations we, and the UN, have all the legal authority necessary to resume military operations.""

If the Korean War, or police action, is not done why are we not invading North korea. they HAVE WMD and we know it it was in violation of the anti-prolifieration treaty . WHy don't we invade them either? They support terrorists. They are a threat to our national security and vital nation interests.
What about Pakistan? They have nuclear weapons and the Taliban is hiding in their country as well as Al-queda fighters. Lets invade there too. How about Mirynmar(sp?) anotherh terrorist nation. North Ireland, the have terroists. Oh but wait we support those terrorists, on both sides.

"As to the assertion that Osama believed Saddam was a betrayer, well Osama felt that way about the Saudis as well; it didn't stop him from taking monetary and material aid from them either, or recruiting from their ranks. "

The U Ssupports terroists and wegive the m money and weapons. Central America is a huge recipient of our arms and money form teh governemtn. Those central american governments might be governments but they act like terrorists. Then let's talk about the IRA. Half of New England supports their efforts and has supported their efforts. They are terrorists. How come we are not occupying Northern Ireladnd?
The point I am making is that we are using braod reasons that can easily be applied to any situation and any country to invade a country and replace its government. The US has to be consistant in its policies. If we aren't then the world sees us as flaunting our military muscle to forward our own goals and not securing the world from the threat of terrorism. Which the White house has stated is our goal as well as national security.

So it some down to why are we invading? the reasons the White House hasgiven us can be placed on several other situations around the world. The only thing left is the oil. Can we cut deals, maybe if Hussein wants to but according to our government he can not be dealt with in anyway. So it is easier for us to replace him with a friendly government that would practically give away those contracts.

I am not being cynical about our Government and how "il men" control anything but these questions need to be asked and answered. So far teh evidence that the WhiteHouse is using is scant and circumstantial with out any hard proof. The cry for war is growing and it isn't going to be like the Gulf war part 1. If we want to change governments it means putting men on teh ground to take the real estate. it means city fighting. It means guerilla warfare after we take bhagdad and the other major cities and depose Hussein. IT means occupation for some time to keep order while we get teh iraqi people to put in place a new government and it also means dealing the the irgai neighbors and we cannot predict how they will react weh nte hfighting gets heavy. Some analysts beleive that we won't get the support to launch an offensive from Saudi Arabia or other "friendly countries". Where are we going to place teh 1 millino troops and equuipment? Are we ready to send our men to fight and die for a regime change that might not take?

That is what we need to ask. As for nucear weapons from Iraq to terrorists? Huessain has shown that he trusts no one. Why would he give a WMD to someone that might turn on him at a moments notice. And he does not hav ethe long range capability to launch a wepon that would hit our shores. And his nuclear capability if it is there more than likely cannot produce nuclear warhead small enough to smuggle into our country. That takes technology that he does not have. And UNSCOM has shown that in 1998.


Chris Messner - 10/8/2002

Gee, we are back to the "its the oil" argument.

As a number of articles have pointed out, it would be much easier if this were true. France has already cut deals with the Iraqis for cheap oil, we could easily do the same. Do you thnk Saddam would care if we were to go and say, "hey sell us the oil cheap and we drop all the sanctions." After all, everyone is quick to point out that we have dealt with him in the past. IF its big oil businessmen rnning the show, its cheaper to cut a deal with Saddam and open the taps.

BTW, we did not 'defeat Iraq'; we signed a crease-fire with Iraq after defeating the forces in occupation of Kuwait; a cease-fire that had various conditions within it that Saddam has violated over the last 10 years. This fact alone means the Gulf War has not ended (just as the Korean War has not), and based on the violations we, and the UN, have all the legal authority necessary to resume military operations.

As to the assertion that Osama believed Saddam was a betrayer, well Osama felt that way about the Saudis as well; it didn't stop him from taking monetary and material aid from them either, or recruiting from their ranks.

Do we truly have to wait until Saddam has a nuclear weapon, or until he decides to sell off some of the stockpile to a terrorist group that has no compunctions about operating in the U.S.? How many lives must be lost before the U.S. can act "unilaterally"?

Chris


Mihkail - 10/8/2002

"I’m sorry, is there a smoking hole in the middle of Manhattan? Or was that, too, part of a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy."
-Last time I checked that was supposedly concocted by Osama bin Landen and his cronies. Even Osama beleives that Hussein is a betrayer of the Muslim faith and culture.
"How much more evidence do you need? A signed, sworn affadavit by Saddam Hussein that he intends to unleash bio-war at 12:34 GMT on January 15, 2003? Or would you denounce that too as some sort of forgery."
The White House has changed their reasoning on why we should go and invade Iraq several times since they began stumping across America for teh support. From "He assisted teh Terrorists" to "He might have WMD so send in inspectors but we won't beleive what they say if it doesn't agree with our theory" to Hey we are going to invade just becasue." So since 1992 when we defeated Irag he has had plenty of oppurtunity to use his stock pile of WMD. Why now is he going to do it when in teh past decade he hasn't? Also didn't the UNSCOM inspectors destory around 98% of his capacity in 1998 to develop and produce these weapons? Or did we forget. So he hasn't used them at all in the past 10 years. Now all of a sudden he will so we have to get in there and remove him? Our white Knight in the 1980s when he was fighting the evil iranians? I don't buy it . Give me something more if we are going to violate a nations sovereignty.

I have a question for all those war supporters. Who gets the 112 billion barrels of oil that Iraq has after we install a puppet government against the will of the Iraqi people? ExxonMobil? Shell Corp? or does it just get split up by the Cheney White House to all his Oil Baron friends?


Alec Lloyd - 10/8/2002

Mr. Carpenter outdoes himself for placing his head squarely and deeply in the sand.

I’m sorry, is there a smoking hole in the middle of Manhattan? Or was that, too, part of a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

How much more evidence do you need? A signed, sworn affadavit by Saddam Hussein that he intends to unleash bio-war at 12:34 GMT on January 15, 2003? Or would you denounce that too as some sort of forgery.

There is simply no standard of proof high enough for you. You have no plan of action, you simply deny the state of the world because it does not suit you.

Wake up and smell the coffee.


Pierre S Troublion - 10/8/2002

While respecting Mr. Carpenter's adroit and unceasing exposure of the hypocritical phonies who call themselves "conservative" (who support policies that are patently NOT conserving the American environment, American values of freedom and justice, or the reputation of America abroad, as nation of fair and honest people - stay tuned here for the HNN chorus of mean-spirited hypocritical howling jackal footsoldiers in this very UNconservative frenzy), I dissent, and on two grounds, from the following statement by Carpenter:

"The Right wants it ["Liberalism"] dead, dead … definitely dead. Nothing less will do. This proposition, and only this, explains the otherwise inexplicable: the sudden urgency of a fighting war in the absence of a fight.

1. Preemptive wars are not inexplicable. Consider the history of Israel. They ARE very UNAMERICAN. See Arthur Schlesinger's statement elsewhere on this website.

2. There are several straightforward alternative explanations for the Bush Administration's clumsy warmongering. (A sort of exterminate liberalism plan is not the only explanation).
I mention now only the most compelling thereof:

We have a weak and inexperienced President, "elected" by
the narrowest of margins, who, in his pitifully bumbling way,
is desperately trying to find some issue on which he can be re-elected. Something acceptable to the half-witted Republicans who chose him over John McCain in the 2000 primaries.

There is no doubt that there are very good grounds for America to go after Saddam, and vigorously. These grounds were just as valid in January, 1999 (after the inspectors left) when all we heard from Bush and 95% of the Republicans was how the American economy was being choked by the lack of tax cuts for the wealthy, and how civilization would end if an American President got away with fibbing about philandering.

P. S. Troublion


History News Network