In my recent Post “America’s Deficits: Then and Now” I discussed Andrew Bacevich’s article about how prior American efforts – self-interested, at that – in the Eisenhower years had failed, providing in the process numerous warnings for any future (now ‘present’) American government dabbling in that region.
I’d also like to follow up on another point of interest contained in his article.
Let me quote one of his paragraphs, in which he discusses the assumptions underlying (you don’t want to say ‘justifying’) the present American misadventures there:
“The central assumptions are these: a) that the Pashtun way of life is defective; b) that the Pashtuns know this and yearn for something better; c) that United States officials understand where the problems lie and by mobilizing American resources and skill can repair them; d) that in doing so, the United States will both improve the lives of ordinary people and enhance America’s standing in their eyes and in the eyes of many others.” [italics mine]
There was something familiar about them, though at the time I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
But it’s come to me now: these four assumptions undergirded the Revolution of the Identities’ assault on American culture, society, and the Constitution for the past forty Biblical years. (I am going to shorten ‘Revolution of the Identities’ to ‘RevIdents’.)
Assumption (a) mirrors the RevIdent assumption that American life, culutre, society and the Constitutional ethos are and always have been fundamentally defective in one way or another, and that they are therefore outmoded, oppressive, and “quaint”.
Assumption (b) also mirrors that, though with a twist: not all Americans were presumed to realize this and desire change. Indeed, only the cadres of the RevIdent and their supporters (those who ‘got it’) were the ones with wits enough to see all that; but since their view was Correct and also promised the Right and Only Path to Perfection, and since there was such an ‘emergency’ of ‘oppression’, then theirs were the only ideas – “voices”, they like to say – that counted.
Assumption (c) – happily embraced by the Dems and then the Republicans as both Parties merged into the treacherous blob now known as the Beltway – presumed that not only the cadres but their willing government enablers (officially ‘hailed’ as those who did indeed ‘get it’) were in possession of that mysterious 'Wisdom'.
And further that they all knew just how to conduct a fundamental ‘deconstruction’ of American culture and the Constitution’s ethos without seriously deranging the functioning of a society and culture that had always (and accurately) held itself to be inseparably rooted in the Constitution and its ethos. (A callow and arrogant assumption that is proving as frakkulously wrong as its application in economics: that you can kill the Goose that lays the Golden Eggs without disrupting the Egg supply … a chunk of fatuous frakkulence that only revolutionary cadres, Boomers, and the Beltway Best and Brightest could possibly embrace.)
Assumption (d) mirrors the Kool-Aid claptrap that those who did ‘get it’ used as a substitute for ‘belief’ in any Larger Being that might stand in judgment (and in the way) of their programme: IF ONLY everybody went along with them, then after a while everything would work out just great. (Again, I recall Wimpy’s sempiternal promise: I shall gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today … which – the hellhot ironies! – is precisely the promise the US government is now having to make with reckless abandon to any sucker on the planet who looks capable of forking over cash for T-bills on the ‘promise’ of payback ‘one fine day’ in the not-too-near future.)
And furthermore, (d) mirrors the RevIdent assumption that the (oh-so-rare) best-case outcome would be the only possible outcome; that therefore, less ‘good’ outcomes, including partial or complete failure and the engendering of awful and perhaps irreversible damage and consequences were not only improbable but were almost mystically guaranteed not to happen.
(And in this, the cadres – otherwise so in-your-face ‘secular’ – were rendered into mushbrains far more destructively credulous than any ‘religious’ folk except the whackjob fundamentalists. Somehow, the Value-of-the-Revolution, like the Fundoozie ‘God’, would guarantee the utter ‘triumph’ of whatever its self-proclaimed Deputies tried to pull off. As best I can see, that ‘God’ – though not the Genuine Article – really does appear to be either dead or asleep at the switch.)
We have not only been sold a bill of goods, but the Beltway is now trying to forcibly unload those same defective goods on other peoples around the planet.
Nor is this ‘imperialism’ merely - or even primarily - of the Rightists and Jingoists. As Bacevich politely intimates in his article, you will now find yourself in the crosshairs of the American military urge to ‘partner’ and ‘liberate’ you if you are either (i) perceived to be ‘oppressive of women’ in the eyes of the Beltway feministicals (and just about every male and every tradition on the planet is already listed on their Axis of Oppression) or (ii) you are sitting on top of some resource-rich lode or located along the routes to same, or (iii) both.
The fact that the American soon to be cash-starved military now considers itself far ‘better’ (not to say 'more effective') for having moon-faced lesbian generals and lantern-jawed lesbian admirals simply adds that touch of through-the-looking-glass, costume-epic boffo to the whole repulsive, destructive, doomed enterprise of ‘humanitarian imperialism’.*
God, this generation has a rendezvous with being laughed-at by Destiny and by Posterity.
By Posterity, that is, until those yet-to-be Tire Kickers realize exactly how much We blew, and how much of that Much was theirs.
I suspect that when the Last Trumpet sounds, and everybody winds up at the great graduation-cum-class-reunion in the Sky, there are many of Us who will be well advised not to wear a ‘Hello, my adult years on earth in America included 1970-2020’ sticky badge. Definitely, you don’t want to have one on if you find yourself peeping over the rim of your plastic wine glass looking Washington or Lincoln in the face.
Or any Roman from the late Republic who had consoled him/herself with the thought that even if it was all going to imperial hell now, at least the wreck of your national life would provide an everlasting warning to those who came after and read the Histories and took careful note.
Boomers, I most clearly recall, didn’t take careful notes.
And it shows.
*As an example of feministically-inspired ‘humanitarian imperialism’ you can read Samantha Power’s recent book (“A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide”, 2003) in which she complains about multilateralism and international law and (may I say it? – “quaint”) concepts of sovereignty that get in the way of the US stretching forth its mighty (this was 2003) and oh-so-Correct arm to save ‘victims’ everywhere.
Not only does this mirror the feministical approach to the “quaint” constraints of the Constitution domestically. Which is to say: when victims are in pain or danger and when you are trying not only to save them but prevent further pain, then concern over the engorgement of government’s intrusive powers and such quibbling concerns as “evidence” and “due process” are horrible proof that you ‘just don’t get it’; in fact, steps taken to ensure that the guilty are punished and not let off should govern ‘procedural’ trials that are more concerned for (fuddy-duddy) due process than for ensuring that the (already-assumed) ‘guilty’ get what’s coming to them.
But also kindly recall that this is not stuff coming from the Law-and-Order Right and the old Nixonian ‘silent majority’ and ‘hardhats’ (those were the days!) but rather from the cutting edge of the putatively ‘liberal’ Left.
And of course, it screams to be noticed that just as happened here domestically, the ‘victim’ easily becomes the telegenic front for the engorgement of government power. Now it is not the domestic police power, but rather the overseas military power.
THIS is progress? THIS is a good idea? Do we actually have two Parties with substantially different but worthwhile approaches to national and international affairs?
AND AS ALWAYS, the ‘progressive’ Best and Brightest give no thought to ‘the big C’, i.e. Consequences. What about all the extra blood that is shed when you invade a country, even for ‘good’ reasons and with ‘good intentions’? What about the example you’re setting for other nations who might also like to have a ‘justification’ for stretching forth their military arms? What about the fact that before long We are going to run out of real money and Our benjamins are going to enjoy the status of Monopoly money? (Google that last if you have to.)