Eunomia · March 2005

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[Armenian] Prime Minister Andranik Markarian said on 28 March 2005 Monday that his government is striving to keep Armenia unaffected by the wave of successful anti-government uprisings across the former Soviet and is confident that it can weather the storm. “We are trying to make sure that the revolutionary wave doesn’t reach us,” Markarian told RFE/RL, reacting to last week’s dramatic ouster of Kyrgyzstan’s longtime autocratic president, Askar Akayev.

“In my view, democracy is developing in our country. Of course, not everything is all right. But the difference is huge. We have no problems with the economy… So I don’t see grounds for the people to get out, change government and then go on a rampage,” Markarian added. ~Turkish Weekly

Mr. Markarian may well be right, but he would necessarily be unable to express his real fears of the geopolitical pressures that are building around Armenia. It is not inconceivable that the same interventionists who have successfully meddled in the Ukraine and elsewhere could destabilise the government in Erevan. Armenian opposition forces are now openly requesting just such interference. However, the resumption of a clear external threat to Armenian interests will likely weaken any foreign efforts at boosting opposition forces in Armenia. Any renewed conflict with Azerbaijan might be used by the European Union and United States, which are both biased against the Armenian position on Karabagh, to bring considerable international pressure to bear on President Robert Kocharian, as some way will be found to blame Armenia for resumed violence (the Serbian template provides an idea of how this might be accomplished).

This has become a live issue, because Azerbaijan may be moving towards renewed war in Karabagh. Thus it would appear that the anti-Russian and, by extension, anti-Armenian constellation of forces in the Caucasus is being mobilised. The present U.S. preoccupation with the Near East and its overall anti-Russian stance with regard to the former Soviet republics has inevitably left Armenia out in the relative diplomatic cold, forcing Erevan to rely on a Moscow-Tehran connection that exposes Armenia to just the sort of subversion that has toppled insufficiently pro-American governments throughout the old Soviet Union. It should be profoundly distasteful and obnoxious to American Christians that spurious great power goals in the Caucasus have aligned the United States with the Turks and Azeris against Christian Armenia. They are, however, probably entirely unaware of the bias against Armenia in Washington, just as they are probably quite ignorant of what and where Armenia is.

Southern Kyrgyzstan - mired in traditional clan politics, steeped in a near-secular brand of Islam and heavily influenced by its Uzbek minority - is the cradle of this so-called revolution, and it has long chafed at the domination of the more Russified, industrialized north. Southerners streamed into Bishkek by the hundreds last week, laying claim to a greater share of the meager national pie.

But the new leadership is unlikely to provide them with much satisfaction, since neither of the regional elites have ever demonstrated much concern for the people. The northern haute monde flies off to resorts in Turkey with the cash earned from dominance over industry; the southern inner circle builds mansions with the dollars it siphons from the drug traffic between Afghanistan and Russia. Meanwhile, the median national income is under a dollar a day, and unemployment in many regions reaches 50 percent.

The new acting president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, served as President Akayev’s prime minister until he was forced from office by public sentiment in 2002 after government troops broke up a peaceful demonstration in the village of Aksy by shooting into the crowd, killing at least five people.

Many Western observers were heartened when Mr. Bakiyev named as foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva, who has held the job twice before. I don’t share the optimism. Ms. Otunbayeva’s main qualification before entering diplomacy was serving as head of the Department of Dialectical Materialism at Kyrgyz State University, a job she got because of the excellence of her doctoral dissertation, “Criticism Regarding the Falsification of Marxist-Leninist Dialectics by the Frankfurt School.”

And even Felix Kulov, the opposition leader who was released from prison last week to great cheers from the West, has few credentials to bolster his democratic pretensions. As deputy interior minister during the final days of the Soviet Union, he commanded troops that killed dozens of protesters who had stormed a police station. He has again been put in charge of the country’s security forces. ~Elinor Burkett, The New York Times

Ms. Burkett’s comments are much needed to dispel some of the fevered visions of some ignorant Western journalists, though I take issue with her rather easy characterisation of the Georgian and Ukrainian revolutions as being somehow more genuine and less based in the same sort of regional and economic grievances (perceived or real) at work in Kyrgyzstan. The convenient east-west divide of the Ukraine was assuredly too simple by half, but it was not entirely misleading, either. The poor, ramshackle western Ukraine–the product of Yushchenko’s previous mismanagement–mirrors southern Kyrgyzstan in its resentments towards the more industrialised, prosperous eastern section. In Georgia, there is the parallel of the former colleagues of the president rising up against him as unlikely tribunes of popular outrage. And, lest we forget the Western lackeys installed in Serbia by the “popular will,” Ms. Otunbayeva had a perfect counterpart in Marxist (though, alas, of the Habermasian persuasion!) Zoran Djindjic, the criminal/president who was gunned down in the course of turf wars between his mobsters and their rivals. The common denominator of likely American influence behind all of these “revolutions” is what makes me most suspicious of the authenticity of any of them.

Nonetheless, the Kyrgyz example stands apart in the utterly narrow, factional nature of the coup. As soon as the old apparatchiks were installed, they legitimised (after some hesitation) the very legislature they were supposedly protesting against and made a mockery of whatever “cause” they purportedly represented. Saakashvili and Yushchenko could at least dupe large crowds into believing that they represented their interests. In Kyrgyzstan the Potemkin democratic revolution is too shoddy and unbelievable to merit such outpourings of public support. What it does share with all the other examples is the presumption of old government hacks, some of whom are either deeply criminal or have the blood of their fellow citizens on their hands (where are the ‘humanitarian’ neocons to call for the resignation of the butcher Kulov?), to speak for “the people.” That such people scarcely ever desire to serve the common good is fairly obvious. It is about time the Western press give up a “paradigm” that serves mostly to legitimise thieves, frauds and villains at the expense of public order and legal government.

A few weeks ago The Economist’s cover blared out: “Democracy stirs in the Middle East.” Now it seems that the “stirring” of democracy has been something of a mirage, and the desperate democratists, looking for vindication somewhere, anywhere, rushed towards that mirage and began mocking and belittling their critics for having ever doubted that democracy could flourish…oh, that’s right, they were wrong yet again.

Never mind that the mobilization of Lebanon’s opposition to Syrian rule was detonated by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, not the Iraqi elections; that the cry was for independence, not democracy; and that Shiites, who at 40% of the population make up the country’s largest religious group, were conspicuously absent from the demonstrations. Never mind that Lebanon already has elections (although they are held, as in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, under the watchful eye of an occupying power).

For President Bush, the “Cedar Revolution” marked the beginning of an Arab spring. But in reality, despite their genuine yearnings for independence, the Martyrs Square demonstrators represented only a portion of the country’s fractured polity — the more educated, secular members of the Christian, Druze and Sunni elites — which is why unsympathetic observers preferred the term “BMW Revolution.” And its leaders, notably Walid Jumblatt, a Druze chieftain, and the exiled Maronite Christian leader Michel Aoun, who in 1990 staged a failed coup backed by Hussein, are not exactly liberal democrats. ~Adam Shatz, Los Angeles Times

Egypt has detained more than 90 members or supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and blocked the group, Egypt’s largest opposition force, from holding a demonstration calling for political reform.

Thousands of riot police lined roads in central Cairo on Sunday to stop demonstrators gathering for the protest in front of parliament. A few hundred of the protesters managed to regroup to hold demonstrations in other central Cairo locations.

The crackdown began when Egyptian agents swept through the capital and outlying provinces on Saturday night to arrest about 60 people. The detainees were accused of disturbing public order and possessing anti-government literature, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, Badr Mohamed Badr, said. ~Sydney Morning Herald

But the centerpiece of the [Saudi] government’s reform efforts is the kingdom’s first nationwide municipal election, unfolding in stages from February to April. The experiment is far short of full democracy — women are banned from running or voting, and half the seats are appointed by the royal family. But that hasn’t stopped many Saudis from embracing the race as a route to political participation. ~The Charlotte Observer

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Kyrgyzstan’s new rulers yesterday sought to avert a split in their ranks after their lightning coup, but tension remained high with fresh warnings of possible civil war.

Thursday’s revolt left the ex-Soviet republic with two rival parliaments and clear strains among opposition leaders, united only by the desire to get rid of veteran President Askar Akayev.

Felix Kulov, the new security chief who has persuaded police to return to work and ordered them to open fire on looters, suggested he would not run against acting president Kurmanbek Bakiev in a June 26 presidential vote. ~The Cape Times

Such are the unfortunate, but entirely predictable results of stirring up instability, violence and disorder in a country still unused to a meaningful, peaceful contestation of political power after the 15 year rule of President Askar Akayev. We can hope that Kyrgyzstan steps back from the abyss, but if it does not the ruin of that country can be laid squarely at the feet of the U.S. Ambassador and this administration for inciting the rebels. And for what? That will be an excellent question for Congress to ask the good ambassador and the Secretary of State, who are at least partly immediately responsible for this atrocious, clumsy regime change.

Kyrgyzstan has certainly not enjoyed a widely-distributed sharing of political power, as Mr. Akayev has entrenched his clan, relatives and allies from the north of the country to the general detriment of the south. This is all the more reason why a sudden, violent and confused transition of power was the worst possible way to remove Mr. Akayev, if indeed this is what the majority of Kyrgyz desired and what the alleged election rigging merited.

Unlike the staged Serbian rebellion against Milosevic in 2001, there has been no outside consensus figure, such as a Vojislav Kostunic, among the Kyrgyz opposition figures (as Mr. Kostunic is a reputable and thoughtful constitutional lawyer, and the Kyrgyz opposition are old Soviet hacks, it is little wonder). The minor irregularities of the Kyrgyz election, which pale in comparison to the alleged vote-rigging claimed on both sides in the Ukraine (or our own debacle in 2000), are so trivial that they would be laughable were their consequences not becoming so grim.

As bombs have begun going off in Christian neighbourhoods in Lebanon, revealing the real dangers to the welfare of Lebanon of encouraging rapid and major political change in a finely balanced country of rival sects and interests, it is high time for the main media outlets in this country to report more soberly about these “democratic revolutions” than many have done in the Ukrainian, Lebanese and Kyrgyz cases. Some reflection and some second thoughts are in order from the braying democratists about what these “revolutions” seem to mean for countries that do not have either long experience with real contested, elective government (Kyrgyzstan) or do not enjoy a largely ethnically and more or less religiously homogenous society (Lebanon).

The mood on Kyrgyzstan’s streets has swung from jubilation at the ousting of President Askar Akayev to apprehension and anger.

The central Asian country followed fellow ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia in ridding itself this week of an unwanted leader by mass, opposition-led protests.

But euphoria has given way to anxiety after lawlessness and looting in the capital, and squabbling in the ranks of the opposition that took power that leaves the way ahead unclear.

“Is all this good or bad? I fear it will be worse because there is instability,” said Alexander Shirbina, a 57-year-old photographer.

“Under Akayev things were not great. But they should have waited until an election to get rid of him. A coup is no good.” ~Reuters

Mr. Shirbina might have said that a coup is no good for Kyrgyzstan, stability in central Asia or principles of legitimate government. It is, however, very good for Ambassador Young and his interventionist masters.

Note the statement by a shepherd from te village of Chym Korgon further down in the article: “I myself am not fond of Akayev but I wanted everything to be done in a democratic way. What we see now in Bishkek is pure lawlessness and is far removed from the constitution.” If an ordinary Kyrgyz shepherd can see that this is an unconstitutional coup, and he doesn’t even regard it as being “democratic,” how can the Western media be so dense as to have believed in “people power” triumphing in Bishkek? Of course, the shepherd is probably a much more sensible and normal human being than most journalists…

Kyrgyzstan’s deposed president Askar Akayev has slammed the ouster of his regime as an “unconstitutional coup d’etat”, Kyrgyz and Russian media reported.

“An unconstitutional coup d’etat has occurred in the republic,” Mr Akayev said in a message to a Kyrgyz news agency in his first comments on Thursday’s chaotic opposition protests that sent him fleeing from a country he had ruled since 1990.

“A group of irresponsible political adventurists and conspirators embarked on the criminal path of grabbing power by force,” the message said, according to the reports.

“The rumors about my resignation are not true… In the current situation I took a decision to temporarily leave the country in order to avoid bloody excesses.”

“The attempt to rid me of presidential powers via an unconstitutional route is a crime against the state,” Mr Akayev said. “My current stay outside the country is temporary.” ~ABC News

Yet again the ousted or coerced president of an ex-Soviet republic seems to have the better of the law under the republic’s constitution, and mob tactics and agitation have succeeded in deposing him. Unlike the other states, Akayev seems unwilling to go entirely quietly. This bodes ill for the country, which has been needlessly convulsed by Washington’s interventionism.

Tensions continue after a night of unrest in Bishkek, the capital of the former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan. A lot of comparisons have been made between the uprising over the alleged electoral fraud in Kyrgyzstan and the earlier revolutions sparked by disputed elections in Ukraine and Georgia. But during 24 hours, VOA Moscow bureau chief Lisa McAdams witnessed the one key difference in Bishkek’s revolution - looting and violence. ~Voice of America

This is the likely fruit of toppling established governments and prattling about bringing democracy to all the corners of the world: disorder, violence and attacks on property, all of the things that have always made sudden political change something rightly to be feared and avoided. It is a measure of how contrived and stage-managed the Georgian and Ukrainian uprisings were that they were peaceful (it also probably does not hurt that most of the feted “revolutions” of the past few years until now have happened in Western or significantly Westernised countries).

The stage managers of this revolution did not take account of the orgy of violence their mob might pursue in the wake of forcing the previous government from power (more likely, they did not care–it is an occasion for them to seize still more power in the upheaval).

No doubt this is what the harbingers of worldwide upheaval call the “messiness” of democracy. Well, we have seen this “messiness” before in the 1790s, and it often ends in slaughter, martial rule and despotism. Now the new leader, Washington’s “main candidate” Bakiyev, claims that someone is plotting to assassinate him and he alludes threateningly to “counter-revolutionary” forces in the best Soviet tradition. We are likely soon to see another aspect of the face of revolution: retribution against forces of the old establishment and “counter-revolutionaries.”

In the view of the pit-election situation and effort to provide fair and democratic elections in the KR and retain our positions in mass media and contacts with the opposition leaders, I advise focusing on discrediting the present political regime, thus making Akaev and his followers responsible for the economic crisis. We should also take steps to spread information on probable restriction of political freedoms during the election campaign.

It is worthwhile compromising Akaev personally by disseminating data in the opposition mass media on his wife’s involvement in financial frauds and bribery at designation of officials. We also recommend spreading rumors about her probable plans to run for the presidency, etc. All these measures will help us form an image of an absolutely incapacitated president.

It is essential to increase the amount of financial support up to $30 mm to promising opposition parties at the preliminary stage of the parliamentary and presidential elections and allocate additional funds to NGOs including the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, Freedom house, Internews Network and Eurasia Foundation, since they have reached significant results within the framework of informing the population on preparation for the election and on the process of political forces consolidation.

To minimize Russian influence on the course of elections we ought to urge opposition parties to make appeals to the Russian government concerning non-interference in internal affairs of the KR.

Taking into account arrangements of the Department of. State Plan for the period of 2005-2006 to intensify our influence in Central Asia, particularly in Kyrgyzstan, we view the country as the base to advance with the process of democratization in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and limit Chinese and Russian capabilities in the area Setting up democratic legitimate opposition in the parliament of Kyrgyzstan is extremely important. To reach the target we should attract groups of independent observers from western humanitarian: organizations, OSCE, and people from Kyrgyz offices of the UN Program of Development. That is necessary: to get control of the election process and eliminate any possible financing of the pro - presidential majority in the parliament.

Stephen M.Young
The U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyz Republic ~Kyrgyz National News Agency

Of course, we should consider the source and timing of this news report, but the language and preoccupations of this document fit so well with those used by this administration that it it is difficult to regard it as anything but authentic. Such a thing could be forged, but it would have to be a brilliant forgery of the sort of duplicitous language of the interventionists–the bit about having the opposition request non-interference from Russia matches perfectly the U.S. double standards of interfering in foreign countries. The idea of demanding non-interference in the midst of considerable U.S. involvement might have come straight from the statements of the Secretary of State during the Ukraine debacle.

There is nothing terribly surprising that a U.S. ambassador is egregiously meddling in the internal politics of his host country–he would hardly be the first ambassador of ours or of any country to do so–and there might even be an imaginable scenario where such meddling advanced concrete U.S. interests. However, it seems clear enough that there are no concrete U.S. interests in Kyrgyzstan to advance and meddling in its politics unnecessarily aggravates major powers and alienates potential allies, such as Russia. What should be clear above all is that what has happened in Kyrgyzstan is not a popular revolution of any kind. It is about as spontaneous and native as the deposition of Mossadeq in 1953. Let’s hope that it will not have such a bitter legacy for American interests elsewhere in the region. Our reliance on a system of lackeys has rarely worked well before, and it is not likely to improve our national reputation or security now.

The idea that the people of Kyrgyzstan have risen up, all on their own, to establish “democracy” and the “rule of law” in a land that has never known either, is the sort of fairy tale that even the most naïve will probably greet with a considerable degree of skepticism. This is especially true if we look at the sort of characters who are coming forward as the new “democratic” leaders of this poor isolated country of some 5 million:

opposition leader and former Vice President Felix Kulov, sprung from jail by the “Pink Revolutionaries,” was a deputy interior minister in the Soviet era, when he commanded troops who killed dozens of protesters who stormed a police station in southern Kyrgyzstan during the last days of the Soviet Union;

former Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiyev – under his regime, in March 2002, riots broke out in his home region in the south, protesting the arrest of their parliamentary deputy. Police fired into a crowd of 1,500, and five people died. Bakiyev was forced to resign after an investigation;

Ishenbai Kadyrbekov – elected “provisional” speaker by a dubious amalgam of the former parliament and others. Mr. Kadyrbeko is an incumbent deputy leader of the Communist Party, who accused the administration of President Askar Akayev of bugging his telephone (something a Communist would never do!), and a man, furthermore, with a somewhat dubious reputation. ~Justin Raimondo

It is becoming easier to spot the fake democratic revolution. A reliable guide to its falsity is the degree to which mainstream American newspapers praise and marvel at the latest budding of democratic joy. We could be fairly sure that the Ukrainian “revolution” was one of the most staged and least authentic because of the wall-to-wall coverage and support it received from the chattering and political classes, and the Lebanese “Cedar revolution” was comparable. Today’s Chicago Tribune carries a ludicrously extensive, one-sided article exulting in the overthrow of the Kyrgyz government (which, correct me if I’m wrong, was for all its problems and flaws a friendly and generally pro-American government). As Mr. Raimondo already observed earlier this week, this “revolution” has been more like a conventionally violent, destructive revolution than the implicit threat of mob violence that hung over Kiev for a month.

I’m hardly an admirer of democracy, even when it’s not as managed and fake as the Yushchenko mob or the outpourings of the “Lebanese people,” but could it be that replacing one set of “ex-communist” apparatchiks with another has changed nothing meaningful in the way in which ordinary Kyrgyz people are governed? How do Kyrgyz people benefit if they are robbed, as they will be, by elected criminals rather than entrenched, ruling-party criminals?

If the men listed in Mr. Raimondo’s column, cited above, are the best representatives of democracy and reform, then Kyrgyzstan surely has bigger problems than flawed elections or constitutional irregularities. It continues to suffer from the kleptocracy that has ridden on the backs of the Kyrgyz, an already largely destitute nation, most of which scratches out a basic living from traditional pastoralism. Whether President Akayev had remained in office or not would not have changed that, and his removal is not going to remedy seriously Kyrgyzstan’s problems.

What it will do is pull this poor, out-of-the-way country onto the center stage of the continued contest between Russia and the United States over political control in the former Soviet republics. Fostering instability in central Asia, however, harms Russia and legitimate American interests (to the extent that there are any American interests in central Asia at all) and serves the interests of only two elements: the Chinese on one side and Islamists on the other.

Mr. Raimondo is, of course, correct that this “revolution” is in no way a spontaenous expression of popular will (though certain demagogues have no doubt manipulated the looting crowds into believing that they made the “revolution” happen) and reeks of intervention yet again.

If there were some small prospect of better, more just government after the “revolution,” then it might be slightly less offensive and obnoxious interference in the internal affairs of another country, but in none of the targeted states have the “revolutions” done anything but entrench a different sort of dictator or demagogue who will naturally govern in his own interest.

But supposing we still believe, despite the strong weight of evidence, that Mrs. Schiavo remains conscious at some level and might someday lead a normal life. The question then becomes not “What is the right thing to do,” but “Who is to decide?” As in so many human affairs, it is easier to have moral knowledge than knowledge of facts. We do know that, in our tradition, spouses are next of kin and empowered by law to make decisions when their wife or husband is incapable. That is why Mr. Schiavo, when the physicians concluded the case to be hopeless, was free to decide his wife’s fate. To change this legal tradition, in the heat of a passionate case, is a perilous undertaking.

I do not know what Mrs. Schiavo’s husband ought to do, but I do know that the decision belongs to him and not to either Jeb or George Bush. To those who wish to defend physical existence for its own sake at any cost, this will seem like Pilate’s decision. They are wrong. Pilate shirked his responsibility as Roman procurator by giving in to the mob. He should not have allowed the execution of Jesus, but neither should he have overturned both Roman and Jewish laws in order to strip families of their legal rights. The analogy, used with increasing frequency, between Mrs. Schiavo and Christ is blasphemous on many counts. She is not the God who willingly accepted death in order to redeem mankind. She is only a poor, frail mortal, like the rest of us, and her condition and death, so far from being a willing sacrifice, is the result, apparently, of binge dieting.

We also know, from our moral and legal traditions, that it can never be safe to entrust such a decision to the self-seeking politicians who seek public office, whether as state legislator, governor, congressman, or president, and that the only step more perilous than entrusting politicians with the power of life and death over members of our family is to give such power to the most dangerous enemies of morality and religion: federal judges. The Republican strategy, even if it had not been revealed in a GOP Senate memo as a cynical ploy, is subversive of the constitutional order of the United States and of what moral order is left in our society.

That much, a well-intentioned pagan might have said, but, for Christians, there is another dimension to this question. Liberal nonbelievers, who believe that “this is all there is,” may be pardoned for their hysterical attachment to physical life. This makes the non-Christian willingness to practice abortion and euthanasia all the more terrifying in its implications. For them, other people’s lives are mere commodities to be used when they are convenient, discarded when they are not.

Christians know better. They know, not only that life is a precious gift, but also that it is not all there is. There was a time when believers gratefully accepted even martyrdom because it was a chance to live and die for their faith. Life can and ought to be beautiful, and we who believe that God looked at His creation and saw that it was good cannot contemn the joy and beauty of everyday life. But we also know that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. We are sojourners here, like the Hebrews in the land of Egypt. Our home is elsewhere.

Mrs. Schiavo’s parents have the right and duty to do what they can for their daughter, but the rest of us—and, by the rest of us, I include Bill Frist, Tom Delay, George Bush, and the Vatican spokesmen who so cavalierly intrude themselves into legal and constitutional matters they do not understand—have no business. Playing politics with a dying woman, even if it advances the pro-life cause or expands the electoral base of the Republican Party, is contemptible.

The basic moral problem lies with Mr. Schiavo himself, and with a society that turns a blind eye to his adultery or bigamy. He has effectively repudiated his first wife, and, if Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature wished to do anything productive, they would stiffen laws protecting marriage and strip people like Mr. Schiavo of their power to act on behalf of their wives. It is not judges who need more power, but families.

I do not propose to legislate for the people of Florida, but there are any number of useful measures that might be passed in response to this agonizing case. Apart from stripping adulterers of spousal rights, they could specify a line of authority passing from parents to siblings to aunts and uncles, and so on, with a final provision for a family council to be made up of a group of the nearest living relatives who can be found. Admittedly, a handful of cousins may not take their responsibility very seriously, but even a long-lost cousin is more closely attached to me than any judge or politician.

Every decent American must feel sympathy for poor Mrs. Schiavo and her parents, but thousands of people die every day, and 50 years from now—a mere twinkling of a star—all of us will be dead: the Schiavos, the Schindlers, even the Bushes. If Mr. Schiavo is, in fact, murdering his wife, he will hardly be the first husband to get away with such a crime on one or another technicality. In 2003, 599 people were murdered in Chicago alone. Although the homicide rates have taken a drop in recent years, the United States leads the way in the developed world. We can take comfort that South Africa, Russia, and the Baltic republics are even more homicidal. Nonetheless, judges and parole boards continue to put dangerous felons and psychotics back on the streets. I wish that the Vatican spokesmen who want to change the laws of these United States from the safe distance of Italy (a country with one-fifth the per capita homicides as the United States), would express as much concern about a criminal justice system that, for a variety of reasons—liberal theories of penology, minority sensitivities, political corruption—refuses to protect American citizens from murder. Yet it is to these judges—the class with the most blood on its hands—that we are expected to turn for protection. Every preventable murder is a travesty of justice, and every intentional murder that goes unpunished—i.e., does not end with the execution of the murderer—is a sin crying out for vengeance.

Christians are right to be disturbed by the culture of death that has made abortion and euthanasia not only acceptable but legal and is well on the way to legitimating that form of homicide that goes by the name “assisted suicide.” But Christians should also bear in mind that we are not called upon to keep our mortal bodies running for as long as possible—indeed, the saints were always somewhat careless in this regard. We need to lead moral lives, accepting our responsibilities, both those we have inherited and those we have undertaken willingly, in the knowledge that we are preparing for another, better life. Mrs. Schiavo, in her current condition, cannot get on with this, the most important business of life. Her parents and friends who have told us she was a good Christian woman can be confident that she is passing on to a better life. If we do not believe this, then what do we believe? ~Thomas Fleming

I am very grateful that Dr. Fleming has taken the time to provide this very thoughtful and serious reflection on this suddenly very public controversy. There is not too much that I can add to his sober reflection on the matter, but I will second his observation that the travails of this poor woman are not our business. Neither is her case properly the business of the state or federal government.

I would like to add a few observations about the political response to this poor woman’s case. It is inconceivable that the very advocates of this week’s federal meddling would tolerate it were similarly intrusive actions were taken by a Democratic Congress and President for one of their new adopted causes. It ought to be beyond the pale for every conservative that their representatives would engage in such blatantly unconstitutional and arbitrary lawmaking–the very sort they decry and attribute to ideological activism when done by others–and it is simply absurd that the proponents of the butchery in Iraq can speak of the sanctity of life with any seriousness at all. What we have seen over the past week is a sort of “bleeding-heart conservatism” that is neither truly charitable or conservative: it is the sentimental demagoguery of a democratic politics in which rational appeals, discourse and standards of law are increasingly irrelevant in comparison to the emotional appeal to the crowd.
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Boot then writes that I am “particularly upset about the 14th Amendment (he claims it was never lawfully ratified) because it barred former Confederates from holding political office.” Read my Reconstruction chapter for yourself and consider the effort it must have taken Boot to misrepresent it this extent. My concern about the Fourteenth Amendment has nothing to do with its disqualification of former Confederates; I raise that issue in a single paragraph in order to show that a variety of reasons existed for Southern opposition to the amendment.

The book’s point about the Fourteenth Amendment is that it gave the federal government an opening through which it could trample on the states’ rights of self-government. The 1990s were filled with state ballot initiatives that were imperiously overturned by federal judges on Fourteenth Amendment grounds. As for my “claim” that it was unlawfully ratified, Forrest McDonald—you know, that big extremist—in the Georgia Journal of Southern Legal History (Spring/Summer 1991) most recently laid out the scholarly argument for this position, which is about as ironclad as you could ask for. Boot appears never to have heard of it.

Later in his review, Boot defends Harry Truman against my charge that in committing American troops to South Korea in 1950, he disregarded his constitutional duty to ask Congress for a declaration of war. That happens to have been the view of Sen. Robert A. Taft, who was known in his day as “Mr. Republican.” (We can only imagine Boot’s opinion of Taft.) I don’t seem to realize, according to Boot, that “previous presidents had sent U.S. troops into battle hundreds of times without any declaration of war.”

This is a classic example of neoconservative obfuscation. The examples Boot is speaking of do not involve the president deploying troops in offensive operations against foreign governments. The first time that happened was in 1900, when William McKinley sent 5,000 American troops to China to suppress the Boxer Rebellion, a revolt of Chinese nationalists connected to the Chinese government. (Historian Walter LaFeber notes that few people at the time appreciated the precedent that McKinley was setting in that relatively minor affair.) The book’s discussion of presidential war powers makes perfectly clear just how limited the Framers of the Constitution intended them to be. There is no room for debate here: I am right and Boot is spectacularly and outrageously wrong. ~Thomas Woods, The American Conservative

As further proof they point to January’s elections in Iraq. This was a vote that the Americans wanted to postpone, in which many people could not participate, that produced a victory for Islamists with close ties to Iran who want the US troops out as soon as possible. If all of this amounts to victory, I would hate to see what their idea of defeat looks like.

The truth is that you cannot even begin to make a justification for the war unless you take into account the lives of innocent Iraqis lost as a result of it. The simplest way to deal with that is to pretend that these deaths do not exist - the occupying powers simply do not count them. The only other defence is that their deaths are a price worth paying and that good things can come from bad acts - a claim every bit as offensive and wrong-headed as arguing that 9/11 was a price worth paying for waking America up to the consequences of its foreign policy.

But the Iraqis are not the only ones to have suffered these past two years. While the occupiers have been busy failing to export democracy abroad, they have been busy undermining it at home. All of them lied to their electorates about the reasons for going to war. With the exception of America, all of them went to war despite overwhelming opposition from the public. And through their anti-terrorist bills and patriot acts they have removed some of the most basic legal rights of their citizens and criminalised the most vulnerable.

The elections last year in Spain and recent events in Italy are encouraging. They show that while the anti-war movement failed to stop the war, it has maintained a sufficiently effective presence to make a crucial difference at key moments to disable and discredit it. ~Gary Younge, The Guardian

Mr. Younge’s observation about the antiwar movement is an interesting one, and it makes sense for European countries in which that movement has consistently enjoyed majority approval. As the sad, pitiful collapse of anything resembling an organised movement against the Iraq war in this country has given way to fits of spasmodic protest and general malaise, aided in no small part by the gutting of the antiwar position by its only logical political beneficiaries (the Democrats), we see a war on auto-pilot, blindly blundering ahead to no definite end and with no concrete objectives to achieve.

The moral horror of effectively massacring tens of thousands, perhaps up to one hundred thousand civilians alone (to say nothing of the thousands of soldiers killed), to achieve dubious goals only vaguely related (if at all) to legitimate national security does not seem to penetrate the confused consciousness of most Americans. The cavalier, pro-war justification of these deaths as being worthwhile is made easy by the fact that the price is largely being paid by someone else, largely by unseen and unheard foreigners. Then, once these bodies have grown cold, the very same men who blithely write off the dead from the war they endorsed and supported can pose this week as some moral champions of the sanctity of life.

Recent public opinion on Iraq suggests two basic findings: Most people are generally unhappy with President Bush’s handling of Iraq and they are resigned to the importance of seeing the commitment through.

Some other results from recent polls on Iraq:
Six in 10 think the president does not have a clear plan for bringing the Iraq situation to a successful conclusion.

Two-thirds say the level of casualties in Iraq has been unacceptable, when comparing the goals of the war to the costs.

A solid majority, about 55 percent, have said for months that U.S. troops must stay until the situation is stable.

People are closely divided on whether the war was a mistake, according to several polls.

A majority of people think Iraq aided al-Qaida before the war and had weapons of mass destruction - two opinions that have been widely debated.

People are closely divided on whether the war in Iraq helped or hurt in the war on terrorism.

Set aside for the moment that the majority that believes in the existence of Iraqi WMD and al-Qaeda links are simply wrong and ignorant. Consider what these figures imply: even though a majority continues to believe the falsehoods peddled by the administration about the “Iraqi threat,” a considerable number of the same people must also now be convinced that the war’s costs have exceeded the benefits. That means that some significant portion of people who really thought that Baghdad was supporting al-Qaeda do not believe the losses in the Iraq war to be worthwhile (presumably, most of those who believe these fictions are probably convinced of the worthiness of the cause). In short, even some who believe that Hussein was an ally of bin Laden believe too many Americans have died and been wounded in Iraq.

Yet somehow a dull, herd-like majority believes we must ’stick it out’ until Washington decides to recognise what a majority of the public has already apparently perceived: in terms of costs and benefits, Iraq is a losing proposition for the United States. If the War Party cannot even rely on all the brainwashed citizens to support its wars, then the great cause of defeating Islamic terrorism will quickly run out of supporters.

Some anti-Syrian commentators say that the demonstrators were acting in conscious imitation of those who prosecuted the “orange revolution” in Ukraine.[1] The similarities are certainly legion, especially the lovely idea that “the people” would come out onto the streets in support of a billionaire, as they supposedly did when they held aloft pictures of Rafik Hariri or chanted the name of gas oligarch Yulia Timoshenko in Kiev. So does this mean that a “Cedar Revolution” being prepared in Lebanon, modelled on the one in Ukraine? The spiritual leader of Hizb Allah, Nasr Allah, thinks not. He told the demonstrators, “Lebanon is not Ukraine.” Reassuring words—except when you recall that the Ukrainian government told its people for a year that Ukraine was not Georgia.

It was striking that many of the pro-Syrian banners in the Hizb Allah march said “No to foreign interference”. In other words, they consider that main interference is American, not Syrian. How can this be? A key was inadvertently given by Radio Free Europe, the US propaganda and news outlet. In an article discussing the chances of an “orange revolution” in Moldova (the former Bessarabia, between Romania and Ukraine), columnist Ilian Cashu explained the specificities of the Ukrainian situation.[2] Intriguingly, he claimed that the outgoing President Kuchma had “lost control of the election process” and that he therefore had to resort to rigging the results. Leaving aside the question whether vote-rigging was proved, how can Cashu say Kuchma had lost control if he fiddled the results?

The answer to this question is key to understanding how US-backed televised revolutions operate. Stalin’s famous dictum— Stalin’s famous dictum— “It is not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes” —has been amended: it should now read, “It’s not who votes that counts, it’s who pulls the strings from behind the scenes.” As Cashu himself explains, “outside involvement in Ukraine was significant, with the West firmly siding with the opposition.” He then writes: “Prior to the second round of elections, Ukraine had already met the Leninist criteria for a successful revolution; i.e., the inability of the country’s rulers to govern and the unwillingness of the majority of the population to accept their rule.” (It is always reassuring to know that the analysts and cheerleaders of the New World Order know who their ideological lodestars are.) ~John Laughland

India on Wednesday expressed concern over sales of arms to Pakistan by the United States and said it could impact the ongoing peace process between the nuclear-armed rivals.
“India’s strong concern regarding repercussions of arms sales to Pakistan by the United States — including on the ongoing India-Pakistan dialogue — has been conveyed at high levels to the US government,” junior foreign minister Edappakath Ahamed told parliament, according to the Press Trust of India.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and came close to a fourth three years ago when gunmen attacked India’s parliament. New Delhi claimed they were sponsored by Islamabad.

The neighbours since January 2004 have been engaged in a slow and delicate peace dialogue to normalise relations. ~SpaceWar (from Agence France-Presse wire)

American interests have little to do with the continued armament of Pakistan. Indeed, ever since Nixon’s separation of China from the erstwhile Sino-Soviet bonds of communist solidarity, a thoughtless favouritism for Pakistani interests has pervaded American counsels, especially the Republican and thus typically more outspoken anticommunist figures in government. How are these sales remotely justifiable? Gen. Musharraf continues to use the excuse of the ‘legitimate’ rebellion in Kashmir for fomenting violence and terrorism inside India. Imagine how appalling it would be to us if India had, for some dubious geopolitical reasons, allied with a state sponsoring anti-American terrorists while proclaiming itself to be a friendly power. Yet it was Pakistan and our own goverment were once the sponsors of the Taliban, and Pakistani agents who continue to protect members of that old regime and al-Qaeda members as well. It is impossible to distinguish between a jihadi in Kashmir, one in the Northwest Provinces and one in Afghanistan: they are linked, and not only by shared ideology, but by a shared support system and a common set of enemies. Our government has been taken in by this arch-proliferator, terrorist-sponsoring regime so much that Pakistan has become an ally with the same status as our NATO allies–what has Pakistan ever actually done for us that it was not compelled to do out of its desire to make up for its own extraordinary guilt in encouraging and developing the Taliban as a fighting force and political power?
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Of the scores of good books published in the last year about American foreign policy, the young British scholar Anatol Lieven’s America Right or Wrong stands ahead and apart. An erudite analysis of the historical and cultural strands that have forged contemporary American nationalism, it is the antidote to a view now popular among Bush administration critics: there is little wrong with American foreign policy that reducing the influence of several dozen Beltway neoconservatives would not cure. While Lieven carries no water for the neocons, he will convince many readers that if William Kristol, Richard Perle, and company had not been around after 9/11 to push a unilateralist war plan, Americans would have somehow invented them. Lieven is one of the rare authors who can change minds on a subject where opinions are firmly entrenched.

He sets out to explain “why a country which after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had the chance to create a concert of all the world’s major states—including Muslim ones—against Islamist revolutionary terrorism chose instead to pursue policies which divided the West, further alienated the Muslim world and exposed America itself to greatly increased danger.” His answer is that the terror attacks roused from slumber a not-so-attractive American nationalism—a doctrine that incorporates in roughly equal measure both what is “best” in the American experience (respect for formal liberties and republican government) and what he most dislikes (religious, anti-elitist, racially tinged populism). The result is a kind of isolationist spirit with a global reach, which he likens at one point to a sort of national autism. Some will resist seeing their country through the eyes of a European intellectual, especially one not given to diplomatic euphemism. But they will miss something: the author knows the United States deeply, has lived here for a long time, and without question wishes us well. Yet this affection hardly mutes his criticism. ~Scott McConnell, The American Conservative

Very much like Prof. Lukacs’ new book, Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred, it would appear that Mr. Lieven’s book, which I have not read yet, is a similar diagnosis of the degraded populist-nationalist part of Prof. Lukacs’ thesis about contemporary democracy but focuses on the phenomenon in a different way. He does hit upon some of the same themes as Democracy and Populism, though, and one of these is fear, namely the fear of the self-styled democracy and guardian of democracy of any potentially ideologically hostile element in the world. From this fear is born, as Prof. Lukacs would have it, the hatred of the populist reaction, which has manifested itself in the blind, carte blanche approach of much of “conservative” America to the aggression and torture by the government and the militarisation of society going on around us.
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In fact, the links between Syria and Hezbollah are mostly a marriage of convenience, and Syria has restricted the number of seats — now at nine — that Hezbollah holds in Lebanon’s parliament, said Judith Kipper, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

It also is wrong to say that Hezbollah opposes democracy in Lebanon, she said: “On the contrary, they are all for it, as they are the majority.”

Under Lebanon’s political system, the 1.2 million Shiite Muslims — the country’s largest single sect from which Hezbollah draws its support — form only a fraction of the half-Christian, half-Muslim parliament. So even if Hezbollah improves its standing, it will not be able to dominate the country under the current system. Shiites, Sunni Muslims and Druse, also Muslims, make up a majority of the country, however.

Nevertheless, Hezbollah retains the strongest armed militia in Lebanon — something the United Nations has called for disarming — and its strength comes in large part from its willingness to attack Israel.

Before he died, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose assassination touched off the anti-Syrian rallies, had said such attacks only hurt Lebanon. So far, the opposition has muted anti-Israeli views but also has tried to pull Hezbollah either into neutrality or into its fold altogether. Such complexities — and the sharply differing views on display in Beirut’s streets in recent days — have raised fears that Lebanon is headed not toward democracy, but chaos. “This won’t be Ukraine of 2004, but maybe Lebanon of 1975,” said As’ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanese political science professor at California State University. At that time, the country was wracked by constitutional crises and political disputes that eventually dragged it into a volatile 1975-90 civil war.

n Lebanon’s president reappointed pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karami on Thursday, 10 days after he resigned amid a storm of anti-Syrian protests in Beirut, Reuters reported. President Emile Lahoud asked the Sunni Muslim politician to form a national unity government after parliament, where Syria’s allies have a majority, nominated him for the post on Wednesday. ~The Moscow Times

There will be an extensive review of John Lukacs’ Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred when I return from a short vacation, but some of the general observations of his book are immediately applicable to the sorry state of Lebanon.

I should say, however, that it was not within the scope of Prof. Lukacs’ book to address the question of democratisation or problems of democracy outside the Western, that is Euro-American, world. To the extent that democratisation is a global phenomenon, and to the extent that combinations of nationalism and socialism do prevail in the politics of every country (including, and perhaps especially, our own), as he argues, Prof. Lukacs’ observations are readily applicable to the problem of democracy and populism throughout the world. That is not, as Prof. Lukacs is fond of saying in this book, the aim of his book (which is, in short, to analyse important aspects of the history of Western democracy and recognise the ongoing degeneracy of democracy in its populist and nationalist forms together with the methods that have aided in the corrosive process). However, the applicability of Prof. Lukacs’ ideas to non-Western countries is one of the reasons why the book is so important and will be, I suspect, one of the most-read books and probably the most controversial book of the year (no prizes for predicting controversy about this one, of course). Because he admirably limits the scope of his analysis to the West, it can be all the more penetrating and reliable.
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Lebanese legislators ignored the popular anti-government protests and decided to re-install the pro-Syrian premier who was forced to step down last week, a move ensuring Damascus’ continued dominance but raising opposition denunciation.

Meanwhile, Syria’s soldiers evacuated Lebanese positions in the north and central mountains and in some cases, Lebanon’s army moved in to occupy the bases.

Outgoing Prime Minister Omar Karami was virtually assured nomination after 71 of 78 legislators put forward his name during consultations with President Emile Lahoud, according to announcements by the legislators as they left the presidential palace.

Under the constitution, the president is obliged to comply with the choice of the majority of legislators. ~Sydney Morning Herald

Even now major newspapers continue to use the same tired narrative: “the people” are against this restoration of a pro-Syrian government, the “popular anti-government protests” express this, etc. This is a very bizarre way to view the matter, all in all. If the Syrian occupation of another country were so awful in the eyes of the Western interventionists, then it should scarcely matter to them whether “the people” are pro- or anti-Syrian. If this were really a matter of enforcing some dead-letter resolution about a Syrian withdrawal or the requirements of state sovereignty (a rich idea coming from some of the hegemonists!), the opinions of Lebanese people would be quite irrelevant.

It is because the Syrian withdrawal itself is not the issue (the Syrians have, after all, been there for nearly 30 years without eliciting much comment from Washington), and neither is Lebanese “democracy” (which is a sad attempt to link a ludicrous Bush foreign policy goal to contingent circumstances), but the effective use of intimidation and coercion to dictate terms to a state hostile to Israel and therefore, in the delusions of the neocons, also hostile to the United States. Once again, as in reporting about the Ukraine, the narrative has been that of those who abide by their national constitution vs. those who invoke “the people.” On the terms of the democratists’ narrative, I should prefer the legalists, but the narrative also happens to be a pack of lies.

As historian John Lukacs has reportedly said in his new book, Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred, “The people do not speak, or they very seldom speak, but other people speak in the name of the people.” Again and again we are seeing a great many people styling themselves spokesmen for “the people.” Almost by definition, they are trying to deceive us, as they cannot really be speaking for the people and so must be speaking for their narrow interests. Even if they are well-intentioned, which I often very much doubt, we would be fools to believe them, much less glorify them.

TONY JONES: Well, joining me now is Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for the Independent newspaper. For more than 25 years, Robert Fisk has lived in Lebanon, writing on war and politics across the region. And he was one of only a small group of Western journalists to remain in Lebanon throughout the civil war, which ended in 1991. He joins me now from Beirut. Recent developments in Lebanon have been greeted with great enthusiasm in Washington, but you’re much more cautious. In fact, recently you quoted one of your old friends as saying ‘There is fire under the ashes; we must all take care?’ What are you worried about?

ROBERT FISK: Well, I think all Lebanese live under the shadow of the ghosts of the civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990 and took the live of 150,000 people. And I think that the real danger is that with the Syrian withdrawal, well, there are two dangers. With the Syrian withdrawal, there will be, within the Syrian intelligence community, possibly, an attempt to re-provoke those old ghosts of the civil war, with bombs, with violence. Much more dangerous is the possibility, which I’m already seeing here in Lebanon, of the various groups factionalising themselves in the aftermath of the murder of Rafik Hariri. I’ve noticed how, for example, the pro-Hariri demonstrators demanding the withdrawal of the Syrians in the evening are becoming more and more Christian Marinite and less and less Muslim. I couldn’t help but notice that in the huge Hezbollah demonstration in the last 24 hours, in which Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah spoke, virtually everybody in that demonstration was a Shiia Muslim. That demonstration was allegedly expressing its gratitude to Syria, although the Hezbollah are not that grateful to Syria in real life. We’re seeing that the various aftermath demonstrations and political events that followed from the murder of Hariri are taking on a sectarian character and that is very, very dangerous in Lebanon.

TONY JONES: Are things so delicately poised that we could see a return to sectarian violence even civil war?

ROBERT FISK: Well, I hope not, because I live here and I’ve been enjoying the last 11-14 years of peace, and primarily, of course, because of Rafik Hariri. He was Mr Lebanon and tragically he never groomed anyone to follow him. I think the hope for Lebanon is that during the war, many thousands, tens of thousands of Lebanese, sent their children abroad to be educated. They’ve come back as young men and young women who have been well educated in Geneva, London, New York, even Australia, without any time at all for the old sectarian politics. If one can put one’s hope in these people, then there will not be a return to civil war. But when I listen to the language of some of the speakers, including the ex-President, who started talking about some people who don’t deserve to be in Lebanon - that makes me very worried indeed. ~Australian Broadcasting Corp.

This possibility of renewed civil war ought to be the main concern of all parties intervening in the situation in Lebanon. Unfortunately, U.S. and French intervention have so far managed to bring things to the polarised state they are now in today. Those interested in the welfare of the Lebanese people will leave them to sort out their own affairs, including how best to achieve a Syrian withdrawal or how to keep the Syrians in the country, unless they wish to be responsible for provoking a needless conflict in a country that has already suffered enough in one generation.

Lebanon’s president, buoyed by a mass rally in support of his Syrian backers, holds talks with parliamentary deputies on Wednesday after which he is expected to name a pro-Syrian prime minister. ~Yahoo News

So the upshot of the ‘historic’ protests in Beirut in recent weeks is that…Lebanon will be governed by a pro-Syrian government again. Very inspiring. I guess all those “cynics” out there, including myself, will have to begin apologising to those who made yet another “reliable” neocon prediction.

But criticism of the marriage between conservatism and populism comes not only from the left. In his bracing new book, “Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred” (Yale), the traditionalist historian John Lukacs-well-known for his elegant histories of the great men and great events of World War II-offers a dark vision of modern democracy being destroyed by nationalist demagogues who gain power by bullying unpopular minorities and pursuing a belligerent foreign policy. Today’s politicians of the right, Lukacs writes, have abandoned the conservative values of stability, order, and tradition and instead learned to bind nationalist majorities together by evoking hatred, directed not just against foreign foes but against fellow citizens who are seen as insufficiently patriotic.

These arguments are all the more striking because they come from a man of the right, albeit an idiosyncratic one. A staunch defender of Catholic social policy, Lukacs in his new book takes aim at “laws approving abortions, mercy killing, cloning, sexual ‘freedoms,’ permissiveness, [and] pornography.” But he has hardly been gentle when it comes to contemporary conservative heroes. Ronald Reagan? “Superficial, lazy, puerile (despite his age), an expansive nationalist.” George W. Bush? Blessed with a “mind and character” that are “often astonishingly lazy.” Even William F. Buckley-hardly the image of a man of the people-Lukacs once wrote, is insufficiently respectful of the past, displaying “hardly any trace of interest in history and only selective references to tradition.”

In both his new book and in his larger career, Lukacs reminds us of a deep fissure that exists between traditional European conservatism and the contemporary American variety. Historically, the great conservative thinkers, from Burke to Tocqueville, have been wary of democracy, let alone populism. In conversation, Lukacs is pessimistic about current American politics, arguing that mass democracy is vulnerable to demagogic manipulation. “The people do not speak, or they very seldom speak,” he observes. “But other people speak in the name of the people.” In his new book, he expresses the fear that we are witnessing “the degeneration of democracy” into an ersatz populism.

The author of more than 25 works of history and countless articles, the Hungarian-born Lukacs has a particularly devoted fan club among conservatives like George Will and Richard Brookhiser, who admire his old-fashioned focus on the role of great men like Churchill and the enduring reality of national character. But while he has frequently contributed to National Review, the American Spectator, and other conservative publications (along with many liberal and nonpartisan ones), Lukacs eschews the label of “conservative,” preferring to describe himself as a “reactionary,” instinctively skeptical of the claims of progress whether made on the left or right. The reactionary “is a patriot but not a nationalist,” Lukacs explained in his 1990 autobiography, ‘Confessions of an Original Sinner.” “He favors conservation rather than conservatism; he defends the ancient blessing of the land and is dubious about the results of technology; he believes in history, not in Evolution.”

Despite the fact that the Republican Party has made populism into a winning ticket, Lukacs reminds us of the intellectual contradiction inherent in today’s American conservatism, which stirs up populist resentment toward the elite even as it extols “traditional” values. ~The Boston Globe

God bless John Lukacs. His book will undoubtedly be able to articulate so much more ably and insightfully all the reactionary sentiments and themes I have attempted to elaborate so far at Eunomia. There is hope so long as real conservatives (or reactionaries, which is really a more accurate description for myself as it is for Mr. Lukacs), however far on the ‘fringe’ we are, continue to have such a great mind confessing eternal verities and refusing to submit to the screeching, incoherent nonsense of the self-appointed rulers of conservatism.

So what did all this prove? That there was another voice in Lebanon. That if the Lebanese “opposition” - pro-Hariri and increasingly Christian - claim to speak for Lebanon and enjoy the support of President Bush, there is a pro-Syrian, nationalist voice which does not go along with their anti-Syrian demands but which has identified what it believes is the true reason for Washington’s support for Lebanon: Israel’s plans for the Middle East.

The Beirut demonstration yesterday was handled in the usual Hizbollah way: maximum security, lots of young men in black shirts with two-way radios, and frightening discipline. No one was allowed to carry a gun or a Hizbollah flag. There was no violence. When one man brandished a Syrian flag, it was immediately taken from him. Law and order, not “terrorism”, was what Hizbollah wished. Syria had spoken. President Bashar Assad’s sarcastic remark about the Hariri protesters needing a “zoom lens” to show their numbers had been answered by a demonstration of Shia power which needed no “zoom”.

And in the mountains above Beirut, still frozen under their winter snows, few Syrians moved. There were Syrian military trucks on the international highway to Damascus but no withdrawal, no retreat, no redeployment. The Taif agreement of 1989 stipulated that the Syrians should withdraw to the Mdeirej heights above Beirut, which they have now agreed to do, 14 years later than they should have done.

The official document released by the Lebanese-Syrian military delegation in Damascus suggests this is a new redeployment and that in April the Syrian forces, along with their military intelligence personnel, will withdraw to the Lebanese-Syrian border.

But the question remains: will they retreat to the Syrian side of the frontier, or sit in the Lebanese-Armenian town of Aanjar, on the Lebanese side, where Brigadier General Rustum Gazale, the head of Syrian military intelligence, still maintains his white-painted villa?

Either way, Lebanon can no longer be taken for granted. The “cedar” revolution now has a larger dimension, one that does not necessarily favour America’s plans. If the Shia of Iraq can be painted as defenders of democracy, the Shias of Lebanon cannot be portrayed as the defenders of “terrorism”. So what does Washington make of yesterday’s extraordinary events in Beirut? ~Robert Fisk, The Independent

In a startling display of political strength, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese followers of the Syrian-backed group Hezbollah converged on Beirut on Tuesday to express their gratitude to Syria and angrily denounce the U.S. and Israel.

The demonstration dwarfed a series of anti-Syria rallies it was designed to counter and provided a sobering illustration of Lebanon’s religious and political rivalries. After weeks of mounting pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad, the outpouring of Lebanese support is likely to strengthen his hand as he weighs international calls to withdraw thousands of troops from Lebanon. ~Chicago Tribune

The Tribune correspondent, Evan Osnos, referred to the Hizbullah rally as a “startling display,” and it was this rather odd phrase that caught my attention as I was looking over the story. There is nothing startling about the ability of Hizbullah to mobilise and organise large numbers of people (it is, after all, a large political and paramilitary organisation), and there is also nothing startling about massed crowds of people denouncing U.S. interventionism, least of all in the Near East. If Mr. Osnos was startled, as many Western observers may well have been, it is because he and the others have been taking their own propaganda about Lebanon far too seriously. The startling thing is that correspondents who are supposed to be the eyes and ears of the public here are more gullible and prone to accept a conventional interpretation simply because it vindicates their biases. But some of these observers really seem to have convinced themselves momentarily that they were witnessing something akin to the 1989-91 wave of independence movements in the communist bloc and that “the Lebanese people” were on the march. Well, now quite a few of them are marching, but to the entirely wrong tune from the perspective of the jingoists and meddlers. What if the War Party anounced a democratic revolution and no one came? We are beginning to see what it looks like.

Morocco has been liberalizing for some years, and held fairly aboveboard parliamentary elections in 2002. Yet liberalizing Morocco produced the al-Salafiyyah al-Jihadiyyah group in Tangiers that committed the 2003 Casablanca bombings and the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

Moreover, if democracy means majority rule and the expression of the general will, then it won’t always work to the advantage of the U.S. Bush administration spokesmen keep talking about Syrian withdrawal being the demand of the “Lebanese people.” But 40 percent of the Lebanese are Shi’ites, and 15 percent are probably Sunnis, and it may well be that a majority of Lebanese want to keep at least some Syrian troops around. Hezbollah has sided with Syria and Sheikh Nasrallah has called for a big pro-Syrian demonstration by Shi’ites on Tuesday.

For true democracy to flourish in Lebanon, the artificial division of seats in parliament so that half go to the Christian minority would have to be ended. Religious Shi’ites would have, as in Iraq, a much bigger voice in national affairs. Will a Lebanon left to its own devices to negotiate a social compact between right-wing Christians and the Shi’ite Hezbollah really be an island of stability? ~Juan Cole

Prof. Cole makes several fine points in his article, of which these are just a few, and I would like to consider the last question in the quote above a little bit more. I am reminded again of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s observation that democratic government will fail where there are sharply contrasting and opposing worldviews in the same society. There can be no consensus where there are firmly traditional Catholics and social democrats, for example, or where there are communists and monarchists. Likewise, obviously, deep sectarian and religious divisions can set groups apart just as much as political ideologies. Though such a democratic regime relies on compromise and a willingness to accept the other faction in power for a time, diametrically opposed or hostile groups cannot sustain such compromise for very long. (Everyone worried about American ‘democracy’, so called, can breathe easy, as there is an increasing convergence, verging on homogeneity, in our politics.) The very success of democracy, namely representing the ‘real’ desires of constituents, is as often its destruction as the failure to “listen” to “the people,” as the constituents may very much desire to subjugate, drive out or kill their political enemies.
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How much longer can American prestige survive the embarrassments inflicted by President Bush?

Bush’s demand that Syria immediately withdraw its troops from Lebanon is a ricochet demand. If Lebanon cannot have free elections while under foreign military occupation, how, asks the rest of the world, does Iraq have free elections when it is under U.S. military occupation?

Syria has a secular Alawite government. Now that Shi’ites are taking over in Iraq, Shi’ites in Lebanon – and especially the Iranian-sponsored and -controlled Shi’ite Hezbollah movement – are likely to gain additional political traction as well. Today, we are witnessing the creation of precisely the Shi’ite geopolitical bloc – the “Shi’ite crescent from Iran to Lebanon” – of which King Abdullah of Jordan warned, without effect, a deluded President Bush.

Proud not to be “reality-based,” the Bush administration is oblivious to the situation on the ground. But reality in Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia is up close and personal. The last thing wanted by the rulers of those countries, as well as the leaders of Egypt and Pakistan, is more instability that will play into the hands of such Islamist revolutionaries as Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But instability is rising, and the rulers of those countries now fear being swept away.

Syria had absolutely nothing to gain from the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Hariri. In fact, the assassination was a catastrophe for the Syrian government. It is Osama bin Laden’s aim, and perhaps Iran’s, to destabilize Lebanon and Syria in order to draw the U.S. in deeper. Instability serves bin Laden’s revolutionary purposes and aids Iran by creating new problems for the U.S. in the region. ~Paul Craig Roberts

Nearly 500,000 pro-Syrian protesters waved flags and chanted anti-American slogans in a central Beirut square Tuesday, answering a nationwide call by the militant Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group for a demonstration to counter weeks of massive rallies demanding Syrian forces leave Lebanon.

Organizers handed out Lebanese flags and directed the men and women to separate sections of the square. Loudspeakers blared militant songs urging resistance to foreign interference. Demonstrators held up pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad and signs saying, “Syria & Lebanon brothers forever.” ~MSNBC

Just recently Charles Krauthammer abused us with another tired lecture about siding with “the people” against dictators, and today Amity Shlaes (sorry, subscription required for full article), reliable echo for the War Party over at the Financial Times, chimed in with more condescending remarks against those who did not believe in the power of “the people” in various instances, citing such dubious examples as the Ukraine and, of course, the current mess in Lebanon.

Hizbullah’s rally was, of course, no more “spontaneous,” “populist” or “democratic” than the rally of the opposition forces, and just as the insipidly-named “Orange Revolution” was the reflection of the interests of a narrow group of politicians and apparatchiks the demonstrations in Beirut serve the interests of the Hizbullah elite. That being said, Hizbullah and its allies represent the majority in Lebanon, and it is perhaps understandable that in a country with an already-functioning representative system of government, however flawed or constrained it may have been, the majority had grown weary of being dictated to by foreign-backed minorities who were being given the mantle of “the Lebanese people” by all and sundry in the West. Imagine the fury of the typical neoconservative or Republican if an Arab or, worse yet, a Frenchman lectured Americans that “the American people,” as represented by such a figure as, say, Michael Moore, were being oppressed and deprived of their rights. They might well point out that Mr. Moore does not represent most Americans, and that his frame of reference is so utterly skewed and self-serving that his observations are not to be trusted.

Of course, other nations do not usually presume to tell us what “the American people” really believe–indeed, they tend to assume the worst about the entire country from whatever small, negligible information they have about certain parts of it. This is not unlike the typical American response to politics in the Near East, which has all the intellectual subtlety of a sledgehammer: if something terrible has happened or if there is some conflict, no matter what it is, blame one of the Arab regimes, threaten and cajole the regime and pretend to know what “the people” in that country wants better than the people themselves seem to be interested in wanting. Yesterday, it was the certainty that the Iraqis would welcome us, and today it is the certainty that “the Lebanese people” want ‘democracy’ (as if they were lacking in it) and that ‘we’ must stand by ‘them’, as if there were some obvious groundswell of support for our meddling.

This is real lesson from the Lebanese mess that our government is daily trying to incite and make worse: powerful factions and states are using their respective mobs as props to lend legitimacy to their utterly cynical and largely obnoxious maneuvers to gain advantage over one another. The mobs are equally democratic, which is to say the willing tools of some demagogue or other, and they are all probably equally unrepresentative of what the ordinary Lebanese wants for his country. Our government stands condemned of having encouraged and incited this mess to entirely unnecessary lengths. What does America gain from destabilising another Near Eastern country, except creating more vacuums of power into which the very sorts of anti-American fanatics we purportedly oppose can thrive and flourish more readily than they do now? Now that all factions in Lebanon have gotten into the business of playing at representing the interests of “the Lebanese people,” the situation is that much closer to ending in violent confrontation, as one or the other side of the conflict will insist on proving that it is the force that truly has Lebanon’s best interests at heart. We have turned Iraq into a failed state, and we seem interested in helping the Lebanese to do the same to their country–why? We need only look to who benefits, and it is not “the Lebanese people.”
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U.S. President Bush added to the pressure on Syria Friday, saying, “The world is beginning to speak with one voice. We want that democracy in Lebanon to succeed, and we know it cannot succeed so long as she is occupied by a foreign power.” ~CNN

While Western media, pundits and politicians are agog at the prospect of a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and the possible ‘victory’ of the dubious “Cedar Revolution,” there has been, from the perspective of Mr. Bush’s critics, an amusing and noteworthy consequence of America’s sudden concern for Lebanese sovereignty: in his haste to humiliate Syria, Mr. Bush has denied the very reason for any continued American presence in Iraq, namely the securing of its “democratic” government. This is great news for opponents of the war in Iraq. I suppose it must mean that Mr. Bush will soon be ordering the withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq–we wouldn’t want to stifle their democratic spirit, after all. Perhaps Mr. Bush will agree to a trade? End one occupation in exchange for the end of another? Then democracy can spring forth, and all will be well. Isn’t that the way it works outside the “reality-based” community?

In 2003, more than a month before the invasion of Iraq, I wrote in the Weekly Standard that the forthcoming fall of Baghdad “may turn out to be one of those hinge moments in history — events like the storming of the Bastille or the fall of the Berlin Wall — after which everything is different. If the occupation goes well (admittedly a big if), it may mark the moment when the powerful antibiotic known as democracy was introduced into the diseased environment of the Middle East, and began to transform the region for the better.”

At the time, this kind of talk was dismissed by pretty much everyone not employed by the White House as neocon nuttiness. Democracy in the Middle East? Introduced by way of Iraq? You’ve got to be kidding! The only real debate in sophisticated circles was whether those who talked of democracy were simply naive fools or whether their risible rhetoric was meant to hide some sinister motive.

Well, who’s the simpleton now? Those who dreamed of spreading democracy to the Arabs or those who denied that it could ever happen? Of course, the outcome is far from clear, and even in Iraq democracy is hardly well established. Yet some pretty extraordinary things have been happening in the last few weeks. ~Max Boot

Since Mr. Boot has been able in the past to believe that neocons are both conservative and Wilsonian (and that in the same article), we should be careful whenever he uses the term ‘neocon’. He doesn’t think today’s neoconservatism has anything to do with what neoconservatism originally was, even though its “key tenet,” support for Israel, has been the common, guiding light of the movement in foreign policy (which he admits is their main concern) from the beginning. Neocon must be an undefinable and elusive label, if he can thus fill it and empty it of meaning at will.

However, one needs only read several of the brilliant essays in the late Samuel Francis’ Beautiful Losers to know that neoconservatism has not changed much at all from its incarnation in the 1980s, certainly not with respect to any of the main areas in which real conservatives criticise them. Their accommodation with the welfare state, democratist ideology, interventionist foreign policy, the embrace of the modern corporate-state condominium and the general consolidation and centralisation of power in relatively few hands in Washington are the few constants in a movement of agile and duplicitous political operatives.

Regarding his piece for the Los Angeles Times, I’ll say this first. He shouldn’t be asking such a rhetorical question about being a simpleton when there is a real danger that the answer will be: the neocons. It is still far from clear that the “spread of democracy” is a) actually happening b) sustainable or c) good for America. For the neocons to crow about their supposedly correct predictions, as they are doing in stereo during the past two weeks, they would have to show that all of these criteria have been met, as they have claimed all three of them to be true and interdependent.

Let us suppose, entering into the heady world of democratic delusion, that some elements of something we might recognise as democracy (i.e., a political process governed by majority votes of political equals together with universal or near-universal suffrage in the context of a plebiscitary or parliamentary election) are indeed spreading in the Near East. This would be surprising to me, but life is full of surprises. If this were the case, then as a citizen of the predominant world power I would be very afraid for the position of my country around the globe and horrified at the likely violence that would attend its beginning, as violence has almost always attended the birth of self-consciously democratic politics. This is not usually the violence of the old order, which fails by and large because it is no longer willing or able to preserve its power, but of the Dionysian mass bursting forth arrogantly to claim its supposed birthright.
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Lebanon’s “Cedar Revolution” is a case in point, one that illustrates the entirely illusory nature of the media hype – which is, unsurprisingly, identical to the U.S. government’s official line. The official story is that the long-suffering peoples of Lebanon have had enough, and – drunk with the mere promise of the magical elixir of Democracy – are at last rising up, seizing their liberty, and throwing off their Syrian oppressors. It’s a pretty story, albeit a bit simple-minded and hackneyed, but there’s just one problem: it isn’t true. ~Justin Raimondo

Nothing better captures the simple-mindededness of American journalism’s coverage of the “Cedar Revolution” than the tired, recycled paean to hip, modern youths fighting oppression that is Evan Osnos’ report on Lebanon in the March 3 Chicago Tribune. It is really too generous to call it a report, since it reads more like a review of trends in this year’s youth culture than a serious description of the political situation in Lebanon, and this is the point. The fake “revolution” must be associated with newness, trendiness, youth and the hip youngsters who are making it happen (we saw this especially in the stage-managed Ukrainian mob tactics during the winter), so that an insignificant political demonstration in a country that does not ban, though it does restrict, freedom of assembly is taken as some kind of bold, Arab hippie march against the forces of the old and corrupt powers that be. “Woodstock” is even invoked by Mr. Osnos, if you can believe the silliness of it, and the stage-managed, planned tent city that invaded the heart of Kiev in December has a meager, smaller imitation forming up in the center of Beirut.

In recent years, it has become a reasonable bet that whenever the Western press begins describing a “spontaneous” and “populist” demonstration against the government in power (which just happens to suit Washington’s view of the situation) there are foreign NGOs or international agencies funding, training or encouraging the protesters in a not-too-subtle attempt to manipulate the politics of the country in question. Whether or not this is the case in Lebanon I cannot say at the moment, but the sheer unanimity of the Western press in its coverage of this situation suggests to me that, just as in the Ukraine, the real story is being carefully concealed and the official government view is being propagated as the reporting of facts. That Washington and Tel Aviv benefit enormously from the humiliation of Syria that the recent series of events in Lebanon have brought about cannot be ignored in assessing the authenticity of the “revolution” or, more importantly, in assessing how some genuine protest is probably being manipulated and used by outside forces to throw Lebanon into chaos.

The habit of journalists and pundits, formalised after the fraudulent “Rose Revolution” in Georgia, to give every one of these almost certainly unrepresentative and foreign-directed protests silly labels to provide a simple colour-coded or symbolic referent for the ignorant audience(”Orange” or “Cedar” or, perhaps a future “Qat Revolution” in Yemen or, coming soon in Armenia, the “Pomegranate”!) betrays how tendentious and unprofessional the reporting has been about each of these so-called revolutions. The very use of the phrase “Cedar Revolution” in any but a half-sarcastic tone suggests to me someone who either has a clear agenda or has not approached the story with the proper sense of skepticism and inquiry that journalists ought to cultivate.

The year is 2007. After a clash with Turkish forces in northern Iraq, US troops stage a surprise attack. Reeling, Turkey turns to Russia and the European Union, who turn back the American onslaught.

This is the plot of “Metal Storm,” one of the fastest- selling books in Turkish history. The book is clearly sold as fiction, but its premise has entered Turkey’s public discourse in a way that sometimes seems to blur the line between fantasy and reality.

“The Foreign Ministry and General Staff are reading it keenly,” Murat Yetkin, a columnist for the Turkish daily newspaper Radikal, recently wrote. “All cabinet members also have it.”

Several other columnists have also written about the book, suggesting its depiction of a clash between the two NATO allies could become a reality. Serdar Turgut, the editor of Aksam, one of Turkey’s largest newspapers, penned a recent column that took one of Metal Storm’s premises - that members of Skull and Bones, the secret society that President Bush joined as a student at Yale, has taken control of US foreign policy - and presented it as fact.

“Powerful people, nearly all of whom are members of a secret ’sect,’ are aiming to bring a radical change to the order of the world,” Turgut wrote. ~The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 15, 2005

The premise that the United States is ruled by a small cult obsessed with secrecy and power seems to be taking different shapes around the world, but these perceptions are certainly not all that far from reality. From Seymour Hersh’s declaration that our country has been taken over by a “cult,” namely the neoconservatives, to less dramatic but firmly founded documentation of the concentration of power in the hands of this ideologically homogenous band of hyper-chauvinist, hegemonist, pro-Israel extremists, the sense that a narrow, vicious cadre is determining the policies of the most powerful country in the world has spread far and wide, not least because there is plenty of evidence to support this impression.

What is more striking is how badly the self-professed ‘democratisers’ of the Near East are playing in one of their favourite prop countries, Turkey. Even though they repeatedly drag Turkey into their arguments to show that Islam and democracy are perfectly compatible (even though the Turkish example has yet to confirm this convincingly), the incredible sales of the new novel, Metal Storm, which depicts a major armed conflict between Turkey and the United States, seem to show that ordinary Turks and Turkish government officials are scared to death that these cultish people will come for them next.
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Unfortunately, the Jan. 30 elections and their outcome did nothing to advance the creation yet of any effective state security structure in Iraq, and Sunday’s attack confirmed that the ramshackle forces Pentagon civilian administrators rushed into place after the U.S. military victory in April 2003 are still disorganized, vulnerable and effectively helpless against the formidably streamlined attacks of the insurgents.

It was also strikingly symbolic — and probably no coincidence — that the Hilla attack came the very day after Syria turned over to the Iraqi government and its U.S. allies Sabbawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, the half brother of toppled President Saddam Hussein. The attack therefore sent the message he was no kingpin or mastermind of the guerrilla war and that the insurgency had not been decapitated by his capture.

It is even possible that the attack was deliberately carried out as a response to the capture of al-Hassan. The degree of logistical planning needed to send a suicide car bomb driver into such a group would not have been great. The amount of the explosive in the car might even have been deliberately ramped up to create more casualties. Although the most likely hypothesis remains that the insurgents knew from their excellent intelligence that the recruiting gathering for the Iraqi police was going to take place well in advance and that they would have hit it anyway.

The devastating success of Sunday’s attacks teaches several grim lessons that U.S. military intelligence in the field already understands all too well, but that their political masters continue to adamantly close their eyes and ears to.

The first is that the revolt remains a truly formidable one. Gen. Mohammed Shahwani, the director of the Iraqi intelligence services, has estimated 200,000 rebels in action against them of whom they characterize 40,000 as hard-core. This is not just the handful of old Saddam Baathist loyalists and foreign al-Qaida villains who can be hunted down and rooted out as neo-conservative myth still insists. It represents, rather, a continuing popular insurgency with widespread backing in the Sunni community, and the ability to carry out devastating attacks in the Shiite and Kurdish heartlands of Iraq as well. ~Martin Sieff, UPI

As to Germany, how could it be considered a democracy with regard to its war with England, France, and the United States in World War I? The German people had no control over starting the war. The unelected and hereditary emperor made that decision. He was sovereign in foreign policy, appointed and could fire the chancellor, had direct authority over the military, and was heavily influenced by it. Moreover, because of the emperor’s great influence on domestic policy and power over foreign policy and war, and unlike Eland and Gregory today, no democracy at the time perceived Germany as democratic. ~R.J. Rummel

This is a sad attempt at a dodge of the issue. The lack of consent by the American people in supplying the Allied war effort in both world wars, much like the lack of consent by the British public concerning intervention in 1914, ought to tell us that the presumably most democratic states involved themselves in the war without public approval. Incidentally, the German national franchise was more expansive and had fewer barriers than the American at the time. Had the general American public had a definitive say in whether or not to declare war in 1917, the motion would have been defeated by a 2 to 1 margin, yet the Congress almost unanimously voted for the declaration. No modern democratic state has left foreign policy in the hands of “the people,” but leaves it in either the hands of the legislative and executive branches of government. Either Mr. Rummel can accept that democratic systems can and often do embrace warfare, or he will have to deny that Britain and the United States were democratic polities c. 1914-18. Would Mr. Rummel take the ludicrous, but for him necessary, step of denying that there were any democracies involved in WWI? If he does, then we have practically no frame of reference for discussing the potential of democracies to start wars. His utopian project will remain the ideological fantasy that it is: an untested and untestable hypothesis to which he clings fervently no matter what.
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Thomas E. Woods Jr.’s Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, recently put out by Regnery, the venerable conservative publisher, has caused a storm of controversy, the outlines of which define the parameters of the politically permissible. In today’s constricted political “debate” – especially when it comes to foreign policy – only two flavors are allowed: right-wing neocon and left-wing neocon. A “right-wing” writer who opposes foreign interventionism, condemns World War I as the senseless slaughter it indubitably was, and shows how FDR (and the Brits) dragged us into a second world war is bound to come under attack from the battalions of the neoconized Right as well as the Left, and the frenzied response to the Woods volume has not disappointed. ~Justin Raimondo

As a member of the League of the South (though, I must admit to my discredit that I am not by any stretch of the imagination an active member), I would like to congratulate Dr. Woods on the publication of his new book. I would also like to thank him for what appears to be a restatement of the view of American history that was once a common sense, majority view, at least among self-styled conservatives, and which needs to be instilled in the modern American public again and again. It is to be expected that the awful Max Boot and his ilk would find fault with an organisation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of American constitutional traditions, traditional Christianity and especially Southern culture and identity by all honourable means. All of these things are hateful to those who want to obliterate particular loyalties, federalism, political and cultural diversity (the historical sort that arises everywhere naturally, not the artificial, ‘multiculti’, coerced sort championed by neocon and liberal) and subjugate all men to a stale and fatal creed for homogenous slaves serving faceless masters in their anti-personal and anti-religious world of abstractions and social engineering.

Let me take this opportunity to say a few words about the League of the South, a group to which I am proud to belong for these past ten years. This group of ladies and gentlemen, for whom such terms still have their traditional meaning, endeavours to preserve their Southern, Christian cultural, religious and political heritage from the ravages of the same freethinking, Yankee spirit and empire that has gone on to devastate so many other societies, including that of those northern states gulled into the cause of Unionism. Though my lineage is almost entirely from the North, ours were the sort of conservative and republican people who opposed usurpation at every turn, and as much as my kinsman, William Plumer of New Hampshire, was right in arguing for secession over the illegalities of the Louisiana Purchase the Southern states were even more justified in resisting the usurpation of their rights. In the League of the South, I see the natural home of anyone who would honour and venerate the legacy of his ancestors and the early fathers of this country.

If the first-generation American (and I apply the term here very loosely) Boot is offended by us, it is little wonder: we have an American identity that actually has meaning and an inheritance from the past before our country had been overwhelmed by the follies of modernity and the fragmenting, dehumanising forces of industry and ideology. If the modern neocon or liberal cannot sympathise with the Old America, and cannot really muster even a grudging respect for the Old South, it is because these represent a world to which such alienated and disconnected people can never belong, and so they despise it to the same degree that they deeply, naturally desire to have such bonds with their past.
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