Hawks. Princes of darkness. Imperialists. Militarists. Warmongers. Evildoers. Perpetrators of evil. It has been a long time since Europe witnessed a “character assassination” on the scale of the one proposed (and largely achieved with a few exceptions) in recent months with regard to the “Neocons”. All the most enlightened analysts know full well that there are a fairly wide range of sensitivities and profiles between the exponents of these dark arts, just as they know that it’s pretty arbitrary to put them all in the same basket as the policies of the Bush administration. But “official Europe”, with its culture, its newspapers, and its thinkers (or, more often, its dominators), has been implacable – causing the fatwa to burst forth unchecked with no holds barred…
You would need a psychologist as well as a historian and political scientist to get right to the bottom of what has happened. It’s well known that the communist, fascist and clerical roots of a large part of European culture tend naturally towards anti-Americanism, i.e. against politics based on liberty, democracy and individualism. In this sense anti-Americanism is increasingly a meeting place for conservative and reactionary European minds.
But at the same time it’s clear that conducting a straightforwardly anti-American campaign would have been unconscionable, in particular after 11th September (remember “We are all Americans”?). So what was needed was something which allowed for an anti-American campaign without having to admit it. The Neocons fitted the bill perfectly.
Permanent war of prevention
But let’s get to the point, to the heart of the Neocons’ “faults”. For decades, along lines set out by Kissinger, the US had cultivated the illusion of appeasement towards dictators and the mythical search for “stability” (with the majority of the costs for this always being born by oppressed people throughout the world who are the victims of the worst regimes). After 11th September things changed, and (especially thanks to the “perfidious” Neocons), the American government approved (with the stock phrase “regime change”) a foreign policy programme opposed to the one proposed by Bush in his electoral campaign. His 2000 platform was simply and starkly isolationist (“America think America”) and the people from the Left who today regret this are aligning themselves with Pat Buchanan’s ‘more right wing than the right wing’ which reproached him for choosing a kind of “Neo-Wilsonism”, or even a Republican version of the traditional “Democratic interventionism”.
And here undoubtedly we get to the nub of it, the heart of the scandal of the “preventive war”. But the lambasting that went on for months seems to me to be frankly rather hypocritical. Perhaps the UN was sidelined for Clinton’s bombings in Iraq or the NATO mission in Kosovo? Where were all those people who are making such a fuss now back then? Why didn’t they speak out? But that’s not the point. As a radical, I am in favour not just of preventive war, but of a real “permanent preventive war”, continuous work destabilising dictatorships, elevating “regime change” to the “alpha and omega” of the new international policy to be constructed.
In favour of a World Democracy Organisation
The problem is that radicals believe in the adoption of three other tools as opposed to the traditional military option favoured by a large majority of Neocon theorists. The first is to stop financing dictators. The West continues to stipulate co-operation agreements that envisage clauses on human rights which are all too often not respected.
The second is the systematic use of what we radicals call “information bombs”. We need a system, a global radio and TV network, that allows dissidents from every regime to win their own way towards freedom and democracy.
The third tool is more structured – a World Democracy Organisation. Beginning with the UN, it would require democracies to come together, to work together, to create coalitions and to press for others to “join the club”. Having contributed to the creation of the permanent international criminal court, this is our challenge for the next ten years. If things stay the same then there’s no point in demonising those who share our aims and in fact it is more useful to shift the discussion onto a more constructive footing – i.e. the most appropriate tools needed to achieve a common strategic aim.
In conclusion, it is necessary and indeed possible to re-launch the old radical war cry. A clear “no” to old and new “Kissingerisms” and a clear “yes” to global promotion of democracy and the full deployment of the rights and duties of intervention that Tony Blair courageously (although vainly) sought to put before progressive leaders across the world once again. This is what Bush’s future decisions should be measured against, in addition to the choice of methods that could reduce the need to resort to military force, with the corollary of violence that inevitably comes with this, to a minimum. And it is against this that the influence over Bush of the “perfidious” (but how necessary) Neo-Cons should be measured.