The War Party at last gets its fondest wish. The demolition of Serbia is proceeding at a systematic pace. The White House is gearing up for an infantry invasion even as Lincoln Bedroom-industrialists salivate at the prospect of billions in reconstruction subsidies. The Pentagon is conducting drills on how best to force nurses and doctors into the military, and there’s talk of reinstituting the draft. U.S. aggression has inspired the rearming of Europe, and warhawks at home are riding high.
What brought about this insanity — most probably Clinton’s desire for a legacy that goes beyond Monica — is still an open question. But there’s no doubt that none of it was necessary, and that the only real victors will be, not the people, but the governments and their connected interest groups on all sides.
This is why the most vociferous opponents have been on the political Right, where opposition to a foreign war should be natural reflex. WorldNetDaily has been an essential source, and see, for example, Antiwar.com
War builds up the size and scope of big government. It requires vast spending and taxing. It rewards special interests. It interferes with trading relationships. It distracts people from the real enemy in Washington, D.C., to focus them on mythical enemies abroad. It degrades the culture. It causes people who are friends of freedom to hate the U.S. for its belligerence. It lives on lies.
Americans can help solve world problems through economic exchange, which brings prosperity, not though death and destruction. And the Clinton war plumbs the moral depths not only by interfering where the U.S. doesn’t belong, but also by destroying civil society in Yugoslavia. Schools, factories, homes, cars, passenger trains, historic and civilian infrastructure — all have been targeted in violation of every known rule of warfare.
Moreover, the Warfare State and the Welfare State are natural companions in politics; the aim of both is to accumulate power while treating people like dispensable cogs in the government’s machine. In the same way, true lovers of liberty are friends of free enterprise and peace (see, e.g., the Founding Fathers) because only this combination is compatible with curbing power. Above all, the conservative tradition longs for normalcy, of which the marauding state is the main enemy, both domestically and internationally.
Hence, for a real man of the Right, a true friend of liberty, opposing this war on Yugoslavia, particularly the impetuous and illegal way in which the Clinton administration has carried it out, should be de rigeur.
But according to the “conservative” Weekly Standard, if you oppose this war, you are part of a “rather motley combination” of “neoisolationists,” “Clinton despisers,” and faux-realists who don’t understand the rationale behind this tax-paid destruction.
Interesting that the publication refuses even to use their names. I’ve accumulated more than 200 names of heroic public figures, the vast majority on the Right, who have spoken out against this war, at some risk to their media standing and reputation.
Faced with U.S. participation in a ghastly attack on an ancient European country that has never done anything to us, they have dared to do the right thing and oppose it. As to the charge of neoisolationism, we plead guilty to this extent: we want to isolate the influence of the government, both at home and abroad.
But ever since the collapse of their beloved Cold War, a handful of intellectuals have been trying to draw vast numbers of instinctive conservatives into their ranks as cheerleaders for the Warfare State. The worst offenders are at the Wall Street Journal, National Review, and, yes, the Weekly Standard, which have expended thousands of column inches to say little more than that this war is great and could be greater with ground troops.
What’s at stake in this intellectual battle is the very ideological basis of freedom itself. Do conservatives favor the natural order of liberty, property, family, community? Or do they, with authoritarians and totalitarians, extol the greatness of the nation state and believe that a nation’s soul is best shored up in wartime?
Dating back centuries, there’s always been a mystical element to the ideology of war. Point to any thinker who extols the state, and you’ll also see him heralding war. The theory of these enemies of liberty is that nations get lethargic and people become self-possessed in peace. Only war lifts up the soul and gives a nation life.
Sure enough, writing in defense of the Balkan war, David Brooks of the Weekly Standard worries that “American society may now be too bourgeois; it is tranquil to a fault.” Brooks longs for patriotism, by which he means servile obedience to the Warfare State, to “serve as an antidote to the temptations of affluence. It can provide a counterpoint to enervation, inspiring people to live up to their principles.” War re-engages Americans in “national life” and can “inculcate virtue in the young.”
But for all his mystical ramblings about the soulful significance of weapons of mass destruction, his sermon never connects with reality. After all, if you believe war by itself embodies patriotism, there’s no need to make a case for the Kosovo intervention as such. In Brooks’ statist religion, war anywhere and everywhere is a spiritual blessing.
In fact, a tranquil, bourgeois society just about sums up the dream that America was supposed to guarantee, and it is the greatest vision of life on earth one can imagine. It means raising one’s family in peace, without hectoring from the state and its apologists. It means security, prosperity, liberty, and continuity.
As far as living up to principles, war does nothing of the sort. Indeed, it means degrading and betraying them. Morality plays no role in war, which is why the state is perfectly suited to carry it out. And as for inculcating virtue in the young, think what message the bombing of innocents might have sent to the Trenchcoat Mafia in Colorado: violence is invigorating, and lives are expendable.
After the school shooting, Bill Clinton urged the youth of the nation to eschew violence and settle disputes in peaceful ways. But here as in other areas, he is a moral hypocrite, no better and no worse than those who pretend to believe in free enterprise while gushing about the spiritual wonders of war, the most egregious socialist program of them all.