In a representative democracy, the government represents the people. At
least, that’s the theory. But suppose the public is stupid. In that case, the Bush administration would also be
And it is.
Consider the recent statements of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said
he is not worried about China’s influence over the Panama Canal (which is now
flanked by Chinese ports of entry). Why should anyone worry? The stores are
full. They have invented non-fat ice cream. “I have not found that the
so-called ‘presence,’ in the form of shipping companies and the like, have
created any danger to the Panamanian people, the Panamanian government, or to
the canal itself,” Powell told reporters.
The statement itself earns Powell an F for grand strategy. A former chairman
of the Joint Chiefs should know better. But we have to remember that this was
the same Colin Powell who befriended Soviet generals at the end of the Cold
War, imagining that “frank and open relations” between leading military
figures would encourage peace. The Russian generals gladly met Powell at the
time, and they doubtless picked his brain just as they picked our pocket
(using disarmament funding from the U.S. to build new weapons of mass
In 1999 a U.S. Southern Command intelligence report said that the Chinese
presence on either side of the canal is “a potential threat.” But Powell
doesn’t agree with Army intelligence. He knows better. After all, the
Southern Command suffers from paranoia, as do all military organizations. In
fact, military personnel should be hospitalized. We must not allow crazy
people to influence our strategic judgments. In our enlightened time one must
dispense with all threat assessments because, in the last analysis, we have
arrived at the “end of history,” as Sovietologist Francis Fukuyama suggested
several years ago.
Of course, the Chinese are now in an excellent position to move weapons into
Central and South America, where communist rebels have carved out a huge
chunk of Colombia. China is also positioned to support Venezuela, which has
recently adopted a school system borrowed from Fidel Castro.
In all probability, Secretary of State Powell regards President Chavez of
Venezuela as a reasonable fellow. He probably sees no serious threat from the
communists in Colombia, who already govern an area the size of Switzerland.
When these same rebels finally conquer Colombia, having received heavy
weapons from Eastern Europe and China, what will Powell’s reaction be?
“This so-called ‘presence’ of Marxist states in Latin America,” he will
undoubtedly say, “will hardly prove dangerous to the U.S.”
After all, as President Clinton once pointed out, the communists will run the
canal with great efficiency. They are so wonderful. Let us salute the
People’s Liberation Army, which will soon be deploying combat units into the
Western Hemisphere (trends being what they are). And why not encourage the
communists to run Venezuela and Colombia? For that matter, why not let them
run the United States Army? At least we’d have someone in charge who can
The Chinese communists are remarkable people. Just ask Bush administration
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who is personally connected to China’s
Marxist-Leninist leader, Jiang Zemin. Elaine Chao’s father, James S. C. Chao, was a college buddy of President Jiang. The Chaos and the Jiangs have remained family friends for half a century.
Consider the deep wisdom of this Bush appointee, who sympathizes with her
communist friends in China. In fact, she more than sympathizes. Labor
Secretary Chao absolutely refuses to believe that China has stolen our
nuclear warhead secrets. To her way of thinking, such thefts are the twisted
invention of anti-Chinese “racists” within the Energy Department. (Those
wicked, wicked racists!)
Elaine gets an F for grand strategy, although she gets an A for being
Chinese. One might say that President George W. Bush has picked a real
winner — that is, from Jiang Zemin’s point of view.
Beijing has reason to celebrate the Bush administration, and so does the
Kremlin. Last Thursday Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times published an
article exposing Bush’s betrayal of the U.S. armed forces. Many of us voted
for George W. because he promised to improve military readiness. But as
Scarborough reported, Bush is refusing to authorize $7 billion in emergency
aid to shore up U.S. military readiness.
Sen. John Warner, a Virginia Republican, was particularly frustrated.
Referring to U.S. readiness, Warner declared, “We’ve got to fix it now.”
This is only common sense. The election of Israeli hard-liner Ariel Sharon
shows that the peace process has entirely broken down in the oil-rich Middle
East. Trouble is on the horizon. Saddam Hussein is calling up an Arab army of
seven million. Making matters worse, there is unrest in oil-rich Indonesia
and a Marxist hooligan is in charge of oil-rich Venezuela. If paranoia was
not so out of fashion, we might think somebody was putting a knife to our oil
jugular. And if dark thoughts were not forbidden by our market hedonism, we
might realize the need for increased readiness in our armed forces should the
oil jugular suddenly rupture.
At least one Republican staffer has called the Bush defense policy a
“betrayal.” The promises of the campaign, it seems, were entirely cynical.
The Joint Chiefs are begging for ammunition, spare parts and fuel. The
president looks down on them with disdain.
What do I need you for?
Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, a ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services
Committee said it best. Skelton thinks somebody should call up the generals
and admirals who endorsed Bush. “Ask them if they have egg on their face,” he
Perhaps George W. Bush read Francis Fukuyama’s book, “The End of History,”
which proposes that we are done with wars and strife. It is the end of wars
and killings, and now we’ve reached the final perfection in pacific
globalism. And George W. Bush is the “last man” — the man who lives at the
end of history. What a charming idea. How flattering it is to our market
hedonism. The concept of the “last man,” as Fukuyama noted, comes from the
work of Friedrich Nietzche.
“The earth has then become small,” wrote Nietzsche, “and on it there hops the
last man who makes everything small.” The last man has discovered happiness,
explained Nietzsche. He has left the regions where it is hard to dwell, for
he needs warmth. Nietzsche also tells us that “being distrustful” is
considered a sin among last men. “A little poison now and then: that makes
pleasant dreams,” wrote the German philosopher, “And much poison at last for
a pleasant death.”
Could it be that George W. Bush is the presidential equivalent of the “last
man”? Is he not the very image of “the last president”?
“Who still wants to rule? Who wants to obey?” asked Nietzsche. “Both are too
burdensome [for the last man].” We might also ask: “Who still wants to
defend? Who wants to counter-attack?” Both are, indeed, too burdensome for a
culture that is too busy shopping and having fun.
Unless Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times is seriously mistaken,
President Bush plans to “hold off on substantial increases in defense
spending until the fiscal 2003 budget.” Of course, by that time, if the
Republic has enough oil to extend market hedonism, any defense increases will
be checked by a Democratic Congress.
Saddam Hussein is a happy man. Putin is laughing. Jiang Zemin already feels
that Taiwan belongs to him.
And while Bush withholds money from the Pentagon, he also promises to reduce
our nuclear arsenal to “unspecified levels.” This is something a Democrat
president wouldn’t dare attempt, due to the fierce opposition of Republicans
in Congress. But where a Democrat president would fail, a Republican
president can succeed.
It’s amazing to find that the theory of representative democracy is perfectly
reflected in practice, so that our stupid public has an equally stupid
administration. As H.L. Mencken once said, “Democracy is a system where the
people get what they want, and they get it good and hard.”