"Now, I know that the "economic determinist" crowd will work out some way to find that American financial or resource interests are to blame for this attitude in Washington."
Maybe. But a quick search of the web shows that Syria trades mostly with the EU, not us, so the class struggle is a little hard to blame. And, while I’ve heard that Syria is our ‘uncle in the business’ for torture, Egypt is deep discounting in the next stall over, so business is down.
You are right, economic determinism doesn’t explain the "freedom agenda". The premise of class struggle is absent between Syria and the US, and there is no economic motivation for suppression and dominance. Other gain-based theories of international relations between states (neolibralism, neorealism) may explain what is going on here, but I wonder if any political theories based on rationalism apply.
If rationalism isn’t in play, then ideology holds sway. But whose? George Lakoff, in “Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, 2002” argues the conservative paradigm is a hierarchy of transcendent authority and responsibility down and obeisance to authority up (God, Father, Family, Country). This paradigm explains “the decider” mentality (our great Father in the east), Cheney’s outrage at criticism (we are irresponsible, immature, disobedient) and the appeal to a higher vision (exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, even the Marshall Plan lite). It even harkens back to Kipling and his paternalistic charge to America during the Philippine campaign to:
“Take up the White Man’s burden!
Have done with childish days—“
(“Take up the White Man’s Burden”, Rudyard Kipling, McClure’s Magazine 12 (Feb. 1899).
The ongoing discussion of exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, the “Freedom Agenda” and the language and reaction to criticism, point to a President now scribing his own orbit around an ideological mass imbedded in the American political body. Carl Mirra, in a 2003 post at AmericanDiplomacy.org summarizes the orbital mechanics (“George W. Bush’s Theological Diplomacy”, http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/archives_roll/2003_10-12/mirra_theol/mirra_theol.html).
So, is it heaven help us?
The Bush administration has not only chosen to ignore a bipartisan opportunity to re-evaluate their position, but show total disdain for Congress, and by extension, the American public. Mark Shields, responding to a charge by David Brooks (“The News Hour”, 2/23/07) that the Democratic opposition is all “poll driven, said this:
“I don’t agree. We do have elections in this country, other than polls. We had an election last fall in which the Republicans, largely on the issue of Iraq, and largely on the issue of the stewardship of the president and vice president of that war, and the conditions and circumstances under which we got into that war, and the way it had been maintained, lost control of the Congress.
That was the reason. The Republicans say that; Democrats say that. So that’s not a poll. That’s not a focus group. That’s the American people having expressed it, their feelings for it.
The president is apparently indifferent, immune. He has a four-year term, so he’s indifferent to the plight of members of his own party, as their position becomes increasingly unpopular.”
The statements of the President, VP and the AIE, looking down from the vantage of their airtight ideological capsule, all make terrible sense if they view the rest of us as disrespectful, disobedient children. If this is the case, then buckle up.
So maybe we are down to heaven help us. I hope not. IMO, ballistics (people, money, politics, and time) dictate that an idea, boosted by hot air and now flying high at apogee, not only comes down, but lands with a thud." Jim Schmidt