Skip to comments.Useful Idiots (Concerning Pat Buchanan and company.)
Posted on 10/14/2002 10:37:11 PM PDT by quidnunc
The conservative movement is threatened by two things. First, the Left. Second, members of our own movement who would pervert it down one ideological rat-hole or another. I am willing to support paleoconservatives when I think their arguments have merit. As I wrote in my review of Pat Buchanans book The Death of the West, the paleocon position on immigration, Stop! is correct. I credit paleocons in general, and Mr. Buchanan in particular, with understanding that politics in our time is a game played for civilizational stakes. But then we come to a parting of the ways. For as his new magazine The American Conservative shows, reminding us that no-one can damn a man as effectively as himself, paleoconservatism includes some very dangerous and palpably false ideas. Since The American Conservative has been explicitly launched by eminent paleocons to give expression to their world-view, it is worth using its first issue to take the temperature of this philosophy. I find it distinctly chilling.
The quotations below are all taken out of context, but I hope I have not twisted any of them counter to their intended meaning. (The reader can verify this from a copy of the magazine, which is not yet on the web.) I realize that not all paleocons subscribe to all its views. I apologize for giving such prominence to its views on the contemplated war with Iraq at the expense of wider concerns, but this is the pressing issue of the day and it makes many essentials clear.
The core paleocon case against war with Iraq is dumb to the point of prolixity. Leaving aside their apocalyptic predictions of what will happen if we do to Iraq what we have done to Afghanistan, its essence consists, in the words of Auberon Waugh, roughly of this question:
How can any intelligent person be expected to believe that a country of 15 million people, mostly impoverished desert dwellers, poses a threat to world peace? (p.9)Because it has weapons of mass destruction. As kids say, like duh. This theme of Iraqs fundamental weakness as a nation, upon which paleocons stake a significant part of their case against the war, is so obviously irrelevant that one wonders how they can believe anyone will be convinced by it. Its like asking how any intelligent person can believe that a tiny bug like an anopheles mosquito can kill you.
Paleocons generally have the courtesy, when they are not engaging in ad hominem attacks, of laying out their arguments in plain English, rather than in a primal scream of inchoate resentment like the Left. But these arguments dont hold water, and for very simple reasons. Lets look at one:
The first question, of course, is why should the US attack Iraq, a nation that has not committed any act of war against America. ( p.11)Because they pose a threat of weapons of mass destruction against us. What else is there to say?
Next we encounter an inappropriate historical comparison:
The Bush administrations insistence on the right to intervene preemptively anywhere on earth recalls the old Brezhnev Doctrine of Soviet days. ( p. 11)For a start, this is just false history. The Brezhnev Doctrine had nothing to do with preempting attacks on the USSR, but was that socialism would suffer no losses, i.e. that the USSR had the right to invade to stop ideological change in its satellites. For a second, Bush is not claiming a right to intervene anywhere on earth. As Henry Kissinger has said, he is only claiming the traditional right to defend oneself, which takes the form of preemption only when the threat is such that deterrence cannot be relied upon and retaliation would be too late. If paleocons want to savage Bush policies that Bush doesnt hold, fine with me, but it doesnt prove Bush wrong.
Next we encounter disingenuous naiveté:
Equally unclear is why the US refuses to seek diplomatic accommodation with Iraq rather than war. ( p.11)This reminds me of a woolly liberal I know who keeps insisting that, conflicts should be resolved through diplomacy, not force. Now lets get one thing straight: diplomacy is speech about political power as it applies to international relations. It is not that power, and it does not do anything in and of itself. In particular, non-violent solutions tend only to work when the threat of violence backs them up. We can diplomat the guy to death and hell just laugh at us and keep on doing what he perceives to be in his self-interest. Weve been through the Lets-Make-A-Deal thing with Saddam already, and he has welched every time.
(Excerpt) Read more at frontpagemag.com ...
PAT YOU NUMB SKULL! WHAT WAS OK CITY, WTC 93, 911??!!! ACTS OF PEACE?
Oh, you didn't know that Saddam sent the plans to the US State Department with a giant stamp, "OFFICIALY CERTIFIED OPERATIONS OF IRAQ" on them, so people like you and Pat could be certain?
Good title, although I'm not sure about the "useful" part...
That is the best description I have ever heard of the Brigade's march off the cliff as they followed Pat's Pied Piping.