The Founding Fathers “saw Americans as essentially no different from the general run of human beings; subject to the same limitations, affected by the same restrictions of vision; tainted by the same original sin or, in a more secular view by the same inner conflicts between the flesh and spirit, between self-love and charity.” Thus writes the American political thinker, George Kennan in his magnificent book, “At the Century’s Ending.”
The historian Arthur Schlesinger said that “the unity of the United States was an experiment – not an easy one, not one whose successes were automatically assured,” but an experiment “undertaken in defiance of history, fraught with risk, problematic in outcome.” The great theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, whose books I used to pore over, warned, “No nation is sacred and unique.” All nations stood before God.
The most pervading fear of the Founders was a fear of democracy. Their view was a direct anthesis of modern American democratic faith. The Founders revered the idea of liberty, but it was their view that democracy menaced liberty. To their minds, liberty was not linked to democracy but to property. Freedom for property would bring liberty, not to all men, but to worthy men. Just as the individual’s capacities were unequal, the amounts of property that men owned would correspond to their unequal gifts of intellect and capacity.
The Founders were actually a studious bunch. They studied the history of Greek city-states, medieval history, the Renaissance, and what they concluded was the history “displayed perpetual vibrancy of extreme liberty and anarchy,:” in the words of Alexander Hamilton. The dread of the propertyless masses was universal. The Federalists felt that the greater danger came from the majority of ordinary people. Of all the factions, a majority would pose the greatest danger to national stability, they said. Once in power, the majority would be eager to launch its own “oppressive schemes” to the detriment of the welfare of the nation, according to James Madison. (He probably would have fainted if he ever listened to Trump.)
Whatever their faults, the Founding Fathers were part of the “realistic school” of foreign policy, but in the wings there hovered another group that had, not a realistic view of America but a “messianic” view of it. This group saw America “as fulfilling a predetermined destiny…American was a wonder work of Providence…a journey of the elect…a salvation beyond history,” said Schlesinger. In other words, like the Hebrews, Americans were a chosen race. America, the nation, had been built by the Almighty who had created a nation that was “unique in virtue and magnanimity, exempt from the motives that governed other states,” Schlesinger said. The messianic view of history was last embodied by President Ronald Reagan. But Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, also holds such views. God has made us great.
For the messianic school, American excellence in moral or diplomatic matters is a given. American virtue and motives are not to be questioned. The goal of foreign policy is to gain power over other nations, to be sure, but this expansion is only done for their own and America’s good. We don’t wish to injure others, but if they are stubborn and resist American power and ignore what’s good for them, it is their own fault for whatever happens next. The histories of other distant countries, their aspirations, their national epics, their events, their national pride, their history and failures are going to have to give way for a vast, new American democracy that will bring peace and prosperity to all, whether the world wants it or not.
The messianic outlook asks the American public not to think of failures (indeed, it barely admits them,) and reminds them that you only gain strength by remembering and elaborating on your successes. Of course, anything as blameless and good as the America nation, will draw envious enemies to it, and American political leaders must get in the habit of increasing their support or obtaining more public unity by braying that America is encircled by a terrible, remorseless, pitiless enemies capable of inflicting massacre, genocide or any brand of ghastly atrocity on unsuspecting American citizens. The threat posed by such nations can only be erased by toppling their leaders, using unbridled American power. such a nation will only enjoy peace under American-backed leadership. Such toppling of foreign leaders is called “regime change.”
It is interesting that the chief bond shared by Hillary and her Republican enemies is the worship of brute force as the only reliable agent that can establish peace in the world. In other words, Hillary and her Republican rivals are hawks — they are basically ideologues, not realists, and they have earned the name “neocons.”
Who are the neocons?
Stephen Walt is professor of International Affairs at Harvard University. Recently he wrote, “I think the neocons have a dubious understanding of the Middle East. Mike Ledeen, Judy Miller, Jim Woolsey Max Boot do not reason soundly about the region because they are wedded to the idea that coercion and brute force provide the fundaments of policy, rather than diplomacy.
“They believe that military force is key to obtaining results because the states in the region are weak and unable to stand up under U.S. military pressure. If American force is displayed with full ferocity, they will soon fold in the face of it. They can be bullied. If America beats its chest and threatens and hurls sanctions or other coercive measure, they will submit.” In other nations are to shrink in fear at the mention of American might.
There is another factor. One of the features that disfigure the messianic, neocon outlook is its total subservience to Israel’s interests. For any years, Syria and Iraq headed Israel’s target list along with Iran. The neocons believe that U.S. and Israeli national interests are identical, which is stupefyingly wrong-headed. A more fat-headed illusion cannot be imagined.
Of course, this messianic stance of the neocons exhibits a lack of any understanding of the complex, idiomatic cultures which the hawks see as bizarre and un-American and which basically hostile to our national interests. The necons argued that the countries of the region were made up of inferior and flabby characters, and if they really wanted to improve, they would “man up” and be more American. The brutal dictator Iraqi Saddam Hussein murdered and terrorized his own people, and the neocons believed that if America toppled him, the region would submit peacefully to American goals and priorities.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that Hillary supported the Iraq war, “It was a mistake,” she said breezily. It was more than that. It was a catastrophic error from which we have never recovered. ISI sprang from the ruins of the Iraqi Army.
As Director of Policy Planning for the State Dept., Paul Wolfowitz said in a 1991 draft that the first objective of U.S. foreign policy was to “prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. (the Soviet Union had just collapsed. ) To deter potential competitors for aspiring to a new global role, the United States would “maintain unquestioned military superiority and, if necessary, employ force unilaterally.” Wolfowitz added that it might be good to have some allies as “window dressing,” but the United States no longer considered them essential. This would soon be known as “The Bush Doctrine.” America would embrace overseas unilateralism. As it turned out, Wolfowitz had only a flimsy understanding of the secular, nationalist forces working within Iraq. He was not a good judge of forces that drove overseas events. Remember him declaring that American troops would be heralded as “liberators,” even as America was trying to subjugate the Iraqi people.
But then a strange thing happened. In Iraq, a group surfaced that wasn’t afraid of America at all. They were Iraqi patriots; they despised America, and began to resist American military might, forming gallant and tenacious resistance groups which, in the end, cost many American lives. If you removed a nation that provided at least some stability for the region, other more homicidal groups would inevitably appear. They did. One of the results of the American invasion was the formation of ISIS. Another result of the American invasion was that our Arab allies withdrew a bit from us and became resentful of American high handedness.
The Despoiling of Libya.
In Hillary’s handling of Libyan civil war, we see another example of the neocon ideology and the way it works. In news stories, Hillary said, “Well, we did have a plan, and I think it’s fair to say that of all the Arab leaders, Gaddafi probably had more blood on his hands of Americans than anybody else. When he moved on his own people threatening a massacre and genocide, the Europeans and Arabs, our allies and partners asked for American help and we provided it. And we didn’t put a single boot on the ground, and Gaddifi was deposed. The Libyans turned out for one of the most successful, fairest elections that any Arab country has had.”
This of course playing loose with the facts; it is the rankest nonsense, and it was soon rebutted.
A Huffington Post article by David Bromwich* reported that Gaddafi did not have “more blood on his hands of Americans than anybody else.” Instead, Saudi support for Al Qaeda split much more American blood than Gaddafi ever did. Bromwich also rebutted Hillary Clinton’s assertion that Gaddafi threatened genocide, “no matter how slack your definition of genocide.”
If one quality illustrates the tragedy of Hillary Clinton it is her self-will. She is stubborn, she is an hard-backed as a shellfish, and her resolve to get what she wants at all costs crowds out her powers of judgment. She ended up being a cheerleader for the Arab Spring, in spite of the fact that countries in the region lacked any sort of experience with democracy and were poorly organized. In addition, Hillary backed the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt, ignoring the more seasoned judgments of the U.S. intelligence community that no effective, pro-American government would emerge there. Another article about Libya from The Washington Times, made clear that “Hillary Clinton overrode US intelligence, outmaneuvered the Pentagon (where the Secretary of defense, Robert Gates, had opposed the NATO bombing unreservedly), while galvanizing the liberal-humanitarian and conservative pro-war opinion in the U.S. media.”
She was a major voice urging President Obama to commit the US military to back our NATO allies who were attempting another regime change in another Middle East country. As the Bromwich put it, “Gaddafi was not ‘deposed.’ Gaddafi was tortured and murdered, very likely by Islamists allied with NATO forces. Bromwich added that the "radical elements" that are causing "a lot of turmoil and trouble in this arc of instability," are, in fact, “Islamists whom Clinton picked as allies in the region. Clinton, he said, “…pressed to supply them with arms in Syria as well as Libya. She really rates mention as an American mover of the instability’ in the region second only to Bush and Cheney.”
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, said in an article, "Somebody needs to ask Hillary Clinton, was it a good idea to topple Gadhafi in Libya? I think it's a disaster. Libya is a failed state. Someone ought to pay and Hillary Clinton needs to answer questions about it," Paul said this at an Iowa Republican Party Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines on May 16.
The Washington Times published an article that contained the content of secret tapes which allege that Hillary had “developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without accurately weighing the intelligence communities’ concerns.”
The article said that “Gadhafi’s son and heir apparent, Seif Gadhafi (sic) told American officials in secret conversations that he was worried that Mrs. Clinton “was using false pretenses to justify unseating his father, and he insisted that the regime had no intention of harming a mass of civilians.” He compared Clinton’s campaign for war to that of George W. Bush administration’s now debunked weapons of mass destruction accusations to which were used to lobby Congress to invade Iraq.”
Gaddafi died horribly. Could anything be more glib, facile or heartless than Hillary saying of his murder, “We came; we saw; he died.”
The Wikipedia entry on Gaddafi is hard to read without feeling uneasiness. “He begged his captors not to hit him or kill him. One fighter demanded Gaddafi stand up, but he struggled to do so. Gaddafi can be heard in one video saying "God forbids this" and "Do you know right from wrong?" when being shouted at by his captors. In a video of his arrest he can be seen draped on the hood of a car, held by rebel fighters.
“Several videos related to the death were broadcast by news channels and circulated via the internet. The first shows footage of Gaddafi alive, his face and shirt bloodied, stumbling and being dragged toward an ambulance by armed Islamic Extremists chanting "God is great!" in Arabic. The video appears to picture Gaddafi being poked or stabbed in the rear "with some kind of stick or knife" or possibly a bayonet. Another shows Gaddafi, stripped to the waist, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the head, and in a pool of blood, together with jubilant fighters firing automatic weapons in the air. A third video, posted on YouTube, shows fighters "hovering around his lifeless-looking body, posing for photographs and yanking his limp head up and down by the hair." Another video taken, most likely after his death, shows him being stripped naked and jeered at by his captors.”
1. Hillary Clinton's Libya | Common Dreams | Breaking News …commondreams.org/views/2015/11/18/hillary-clintons-libya, http://www.bing.com/search?q=huffington+post%2c+libya+and+clinton&qs=HS&pq=hu&sc=8-2&sp=1&cvid=7D15D26DDA184F079A5081ECDEABF90B&FORM=QBREHillary Clinton's Libya. by. … © 2016 Huffington Post. David Bromwich. David Bromwich is editor of a selection of Edmund Burke’s speeches, On Empire, Liberty, …