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mercredi, 23 février 2011

Ghosts of the Truman Doctrine


Ghosts of the Truman Doctrine

by Paul Gottfried

Ex: http://takimag.com/

In the last few days I’ve run across two authoritative statements by neocon journalists which provide a new American “Freedom Doctrine for Arab democracy.” One statement is by Pod the Younger in the New York Post summoning Americans back to the Truman Administration’s pro-democracy policy. In Europe after World War II, it seems, American stewardship kept Europe from going communist.

Pod is referring to the arduous string-pulling that the US engaged in after the Second World War to keep European countries with large communist parties, particularly France and Italy, from moving into the Soviet Bloc. But those countries had communist parties that rarely received above a quarter of the popular vote. It is also doubtful that these places would have fallen behind the Iron Curtain even if the US didn’t bankroll what quickly became corrupt blocs such as Italy’s Christian Democrats. In the German case, with due respect to Pod and other neocons, there were pre-Nazi parliamentary institutions dating back to the early nineteenth century. Germany always had a substantial, well-educated middle class and very industrious workers. Unlike the Egyptians, almost all Germans were literate and most had marketable skills. Comparing the Germans, even after World War II, to most of the Arab world today is almost infantile. Would Pod suggest that we export our labor unions to foreign countries to teach others about “democracy”? That may not be a bad idea, provided we could move our unions out of this country into North Africa.

Krauthammer exhibits more mental energy than Pod in framing his detailed endorsement of global democracy. He appeals to the Truman Doctrine, the third reference point in neocon memory after the 1938 Munich Agreement and Israel’s founding in 1948. The US is urged to “use its influence to help democrats everywhere throw off dictatorial rule.” We must also intervene to make sure that we have true democracy when we foster (or incite) revolution.

It is furthermore in our government’s interest to protect “these new democracies…against totalitarians, foreign and domestic.” Just as during the Cold War’s early phase when we kept communist parties from entering European governments, we must now take action to keep totalitarian parties, meaning here Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, “out of power.” Krauthammer does not imagine that the policies he proposes can be implemented without extensive American involvement. But he reminds us: “A freedom doctrine is a freedom agenda given direction by guiding principles. Truman did it. So can we.”

Is what Krauthammer proposes really self-rule for other countries, or is it acceptance of a permanent American suzerainty? He seems far less willing to allow Egypt to go its own way than to have Egyptians live according to his wishes. Why not describe his political program as having the US government force the rest of the world into compliance with the neocon vision of a good society?

If Krauthammer is universally concerned with freedom, why doesn’t he protest the continual infringement on free speech and inquiry in Western “democracies” in the name of fighting hate speech and unkind thoughts? In France one can now be arrested and thrown in jail for questioning the “Turkish genocide.” The same is true throughout the EU for those who challenge the governmentally recognized account of the Holocaust. It is also quite possibly a punishable crime in France to reissue Jean Raspail’s Le Camp des Saints. According to Le Figaro Magazine, the novel’s 85-year-old author will have courts prosecuting him and his publisher on 87 counts as soon as his reprinted work hits the bookstands. In this novel, first published 35 years ago, Raspail depicts Indians fleeing en masse in a boat to France. Since this voyage is shown in a less-than-complimentary fashion, the author is subject to judicial prosecution for having insulted Third World sensibilities.

Raspail told Le Figaro that freedom’s primary threat isn’t “Big Brother,” it’s “Big Other”—the silent shaming collective force of those who aren’t native Europeans. He points out that there are now multiple laws in his country, mostly passed by French communists and socialists, criminalizing ungracious speech against certain (particularly non-Christian and usually nonwhite) minorities.


But there are governmental attacks on politically incorrect sentiments closer to home. In Saskatchewan, ministers have been threatened with jail if they read aloud passages from the Bible that are sexist or homophobic. Presumably said ministers can get away with this act against Canadian “human rights” if they dissuade their parishioners from believing in the offending biblical ethics. Why are attacks on liberty acceptable when done in the name of “human rights” but not because of the Koran?

Krauthammer complains that there are still Americans who question his “freedom doctrine”: Although the left is “enthusiastic for Arab democracy,” they have not been consistent in their willingness to do what is necessary to sustain it. “Indeed, the left spent the better part of the Bush years excoriating the freedom agenda as either fantasy or yet another sordid example of U.S. imperialism.” Krauthammer is particularly bothered by what we are led to believe is the exclusively leftist idea of “Arab exceptionalism,” namely the idea that our Western ideas about democracy are not workable for Arabs.

Is Krauthammer such an idiot that he doesn’t know that lots of people on the right, including most Ron Paul voters, believe it’s a bad idea to invest money and lives trying to convert most of the world to those features of modern democracy that Krauthammer considers desirable? These mavericks (to borrow Sarah Palin’s term) also believe that we would do better to fight for our diminishing freedom in the Western world rather than going elsewhere in search of monsters to slay. No one is asking Krauthammer or his buds on FOX News to agree with this alternative point of view. It’s only a question of acknowledging that those who disagree with them are by no means exclusively on the left. Why can’t they treat their enormous opposition on the right as worthy of respectful mention?

I believe there are two obvious reasons for this rejection of reality. First, the predominantly Jewish neocons who run the conservative media apparatus loathe “opponents on the right,” meaning people who are collectively dismissed as anti-Semites and who are so uniformly contemptible that one is supposed to avoid noting their existence. Krauthammer on TV can barely conceal his revulsion for Ron Paul, and last week he poured out his contempt on the mostly conventional Republican CPAC because some of the participants were enthusiastic Paul-backers. Such enthusiasm has not been authorized, and those who express it are, from Krauthammer’s perspective, deserving of suspicion. Who knows whether such enthusiasts aren’t also “neo-Confederates” like Tom DiLorenzo, who has been beaten from pillar to post in the national press for having addressed the League of the South in addition to being an economics advisor to Ron Paul? Krauthammer, Kristol, and the Pod people surely wouldn’t want such a person allowed anywhere near the conservative-GOP coalition. Someone as extremist as DiLorenzo might scare off Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy, or those liberals whom the neocons have wooed onto their TV programs.

Two, it is important that the neocons, who are having their way in terms of controlling “movement conservative” resources, don’t cause their benefactors to notice that theirs is not the only show on the very loosely defined “right.” There are still competing views from bona fide conservatives, and if business donors are made aware of this fact they may take their donations elsewhere. For those who are monopolizing the goodies, it is important to keep those who count from noticing other conservative positions.

The liberal media has exactly the same interest. The establishment left does not care any more than the neocons to see the present “conservative” opposition pulled toward a harder right. Even if the left and the non-neocon right occasionally agree on foreign policy, they are farther apart sociologically than, say, Jonah Goldberg is from Matthew Yglesias or Bill Kristol from Alan Colmes. Those permitted to participate in the conversation keep the others out of view. Why complicate the picture by seeking the opinion of nonpersons?

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