so the great champion of colonialism Rudyard Kipling referred to
that was long ago, right? Surely, with all the current woes
resulting from convoluted alliances, laying tripwires all across
the globe, no one would dare entertain such notions today.
Certainly, with hundreds of years of evidence refuting the benefits
of colonialism, no one would contemplate such a thing. And of course,
most of all, no one claiming to be a conservative, whose first principle
is to beware the unintended consequence, would even imagine such
but, haven't you heard? Colonialism is back, baby!
least in the minds of the All The Usual Suspects.
more nebulous concepts of imperialism, no more “spheres of influence.”
We're talking full-bore colonialism. We'll be running everything.
yes. Those halcyon days of colonialism. Rumpled cotton khakis, servants
for two bits a month, cricket, caning the wogs. And, of course,
teaching the rudimentary elements of civilization to the natives.
let us not forget passing along all those skill sets that will make
them invaluable assets in the global economy — skills that they'll
need in order to make sneakers and snow globes — skills that will
put money in their pockets, and allow them unhindered access to
American fast food and entertainment. We shall make the world
safe for McDonald's and MTV. The ignorant heathen just doesn't know
a good thing when he sees it.
course, we'll also carefully consider their spiritual needs. Instead
of Dervishes spinning upon their right foot, whirling into a state
of communion with God, their left eye will become fixated upon by
the gyrating navel of Britney Spears.
why colonialism, and why now? Apparently, in an antithesis to Paul
Kennedy's much-referred thesis “imperial
overstretch,” we are experiencing imperial understretch.
You see, it's not that we have become too entangled in the world,
it's that we haven't been entangled enough, and haven't been
bold enough in doing it. And let's face it, the noble savage, well,
needs a bit of “tough love” to realize his nobility.
I'm not exactly for the Indian tradition of the immolation of widows
on their husband's funeral pyres. It's not that I don't think we
have nothing to offer, temporal or spiritual. Trust me, I'm the
last to equivocate on the value of cultures.
that's not really the point, is it?
point is, our designers of the Newest World Order will repeal the
human condition employing the usual modality: Force.
we are told, in the end, the natives will be grateful. Yes, we have
plenty of evidence that they're all are so grateful. So grateful
that when I not long ago was reading travelling tips for the Middle
East and North Africa, the author strongly recommended against wearing
shirts with epaulettes … and wearing sunglasses … because, you see,
it reminded the natives of, well, colonialism. The recommendation
given, and worded approximately, was, regardless of the sun's intensity,
“Just let your eyes burn out.”
must admit, bringing enlightenment to the heathen via freedom through
force sure has a big selling point, at least in the short term.
It certainly eliminates a lot of messiness … at least on our part.
take a look at an alternative — for example, teaching The Invisible
God, and later God Incarnate, the faithful were viciously persecuted
be sure, the faithful withstood
trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds
and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were
tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins
and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented …
admit, this sounds not at all like living the good life in the south
of France, so it tends to be a pretty hard sell. But, I suppose
that's the Christian's cross to bear.
Muggeridge, that great and hilarious man, once marveled at that
most prominent symbol of Christian faith. He imagined an ancient
meeting with an ad exec, upon which the Christian client begins,
“You see, we have this cross …”
to be certain, our modern proselytizers are not altogether interested
in the finer points of what Dietrich Bonhöffer called The
Costs of Discipleship. But who needs Bonhöffer when
we have The Modern Christian State?
how do we sell our modern hybrid (which isn't actually a hybrid
at all)? We need a slogan — wait a minute — how about: Bombs
for Jesus! Maybe not. Perhaps we should be thinking more along
symbolic lines. Imagine … Polycarp
with a Howitzer. I'm sure a competent graphic artist could come
up with a convincing poster. Just think, instead of showing Christian
hospitality to his brethren and executioners alike in the hours
preceding his death (as did Bonhöffer), just think how Polycarp
could have kicked ass with a little modern materiel.
for the intellectuals, I'm sure we can twist some words from the
Theologica into some convenient theses. (Or considering
our current enemy, maybe the Summa
Contra Gentiles is more in order?)
this welfare program writ large, our latter-day do-gooders would
accomplish in the Third World what has been accomplished with the
Third Estate — but of course, always with the best of intentions.
I understand the neocolonialists' frustration. I suppose since the
protection racket isn't working out, they would like to find some
new clients, and give them an offer they can't refuse.
before we find out what the boy geniuses have been considering for
us, let's take a quick look at the track record, and America's first
steps toward imperialism.
on Early American Empire
Splendid Little War
recently had more than a few of my Christian brethren refer the
following passage to me:
saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel,
how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have,
and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling,
ox and sheep, camel and ass.
it's not from National Review, it's from The Holy Bible.
I fear that the reason my brethren point out this scripture to me
is that they feel it is evidence that we can do as we please, because
The Lord is on our side. Oh, dear. However, if any of my brethren
have been receiving Direct Instruction on this most current matter,
I certainly hope they make me privy to His Pronouncements — I don't
want to be left in the dark.
this wouldn't be the first time we have Received Permission to invade
Republic, Not an Empire, Pat Buchanan records the words
of President McKinley, who came down to a press conference to deliver
walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight,
and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down
on my knees and prayed [to] Almighty God for light and guidance
more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way
— I don't know how it was but it came. … that there was nothing
left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos,
and uplift them and civilize and Christianize them, and by God's
grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for
whom Christ also died.
for a moment the reaction of the cynical Washington Press Corps
of today hearing these words from the lips of President George W.
Bush. But who knows, perhaps The Fourth Estate could swallow their
vanity long enough to see their aspirations fulfilled.
notes “that baptisms had begun in the islands fifty years before
the English landed at Jamestown, and that two million Filipinos
had already been received into the Church …”
what can only be described as Manifest Destiny turned Manifest Madness,
Albert Beveridge, Indiana's newly elected thirty-five-year-old senator,
delivered these words as the nascent American Empire was considering
the invasion of The Philippines:
is elemental, it is racial. God has not been preparing the English
and Teutonic-speaking peoples for a thousand years for nothing
but vain and idle self-admiration. … He has made us the master
organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns.
… He has made us adepts in government that we may administer government
among savage and senile peoples.
a counterfeit echo of the aforementioned words to Saul, William
Allen White's Emporia Gazette didn't mince words: “It is
the Anglo-Saxon destiny to go forth as a world conqueror. He will
take possession of all the islands of the sea. He will exterminate
the peoples he cannot subjugate. This is what fate holds for the
chosen people. It is so written.”
perhaps what is more important is that “the man on the street” was
heady about the prospect of expanding America's domain and dominion.
we took The Philippines from Spain, with the support of the Philippine
people, because (in a very familiar pattern) they believed that
America was helping them throw off the yoke of the Spanish Empire.
Instead, we installed a colonial government, with William Howard
Taft as Civil Governor. Unfortunately, the Filipinos hadn’t understood
the first principle of geopolitical intercourse: Trust no one —
otherwise, simply trade one master for another.
the Filipinos realized that they had been betrayed, they revolted.
in the United States, 1898 — 1935, Jim Zwick recounts that
after the Filipinos were victorious at Balangiga, Gen. Jacob Smith
issued the following orders: “I want no prisoners. I wish you to
kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better you will please
me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in
actual hostilities against the United States.” Gen. Smith later
clarified that all Filipinos on Samar over the age of ten should
the time the war was over in 1902, and The Philippines defeated,
as many as (estimates vary greatly) a half-million Filipinos perished,
mostly civilian, from the effects of war.
everyone was bedazzled by the war effort, and the opposing voices
were powerful, but few. The Anti-Imperialist League included such
luminaries as H. L. Mencken, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, and William
magazine, James B. Dahlquist adds “Soldiers also assisted the
cause. Their letters, sometimes describing cruelties committed by
both sides, were used to educate the public about the war, which
had started out with humanitarian goals but had now lost its moral
compass. Even some conservatives debated whether the Philippine
policy was consistent with the ideals upon which the United States
was to conduct hearings on military conduct, but the war was over,
and the American people weary.
a very good first step for American Empire and American Colonialism.
War to Make the World Safe for Democracy was fought on many fronts.
I has also been called The War that Killed God, as so many of the
post-WW I congregation left the church after the horrors of the
war, remembering their pastors beating their pulpits as war drums
for righteousness' sake.
do not know how my great-grandmother, who died when I was six, would
have expressed her feelings on the outcome of this war. She was
a church-goer, and certainly knew her scripture. (It doesn't seem
possible that her life spanned from horse buggies to bikinis — but
she stoically and patiently watched the world's peculiarities to
the very end.) I would dearly love to have been able to speak to
her about her times, and her faith.
I wonder if her thoughts might have been reflected in her son, who
not long before he died, recalled to me a man whom he had admired
deeply, a banker in their hometown of Binghamton, New York (the
burial place of his great-grandparents). A vigorous and inquisitive
man, my grandfather always had the gift of the gab, and the expression
“hail fellow well met” was invented for him. I can only imagine
how this precocious lad entertained his idol.
would have been about nine years old at the outbreak of the war.
reminisced the brave soldiers marching in parade, off to right the
wrongs of humanity; and the man he admired was one of them. He then
told me that he didn't return from battle, and he said no more —
but as I looked at his face, the implicit meaning of his expression
seemed to be, “for what?”
there is never a shortage of charlatan newspapermen to do the bidding
of The State, then as now. As journalists were reporting that Germans
were throwing Belgian babies in the air and catching them on their
bayonets, an American journalist was journeying the Near East to
find a hero to help bring America into the war, whom he would eventually
dub, Lawrence of Arabia.
childhood I had simply admired Lawrence
of Arabia on its merits as a film, but I had not until fairly
recently realized that David Lean's masterpiece about T. E. Lawrence
was also the quintessential expression of the folly of imperialism
and colonial rule.
makes the story especially powerful is that Lawrence, though only
a lieutenant at the start of the conflict, is an extraordinary scholar,
knowing the geography, history, religion, tribal customs, dialects,
and dynamics of the disparate Arabian Bedouins.
brilliant man with a corresponding ego? The editor's notes that
precede the text of Lawrence's Revolt
in the Desert are hilarious reading. The editor continued
to complain about the inconsistent spellings of various proper nouns,
to which Lawrence continued to provide convoluted and exasperating
explanations of why it must be the way it is. The editor finally
astonishing that we vainly enter into conflicts with far-flung nations
when our best advisors have less than one-hundredth the intellect
or applicable education that Lawrence had. The U.S. invasion of
Afghanistan was seriously delayed because our government couldn't
even find a translator to speak the language of the tribesmen with
whom they were expected to ally themselves.
makes Lawrence of Arabia so compelling is that it's a story
of honor, loyalty, leadership, friendship, and bravery … and yes,
vanity of every sort.
in the end, Lawrence realized that for all his intellect, education,
and qualities of leadership, he was not the man who could lead Arabia
to sustained freedom.
pinched the skin of his fair breast, and told Sherif Ali (played
by Omar Sharif) that he could not change this thing, and
told him, “You lead them — they're yours. Trust your own people,
and let me go back to mine.”
after Lawrence returned to Cairo, the clever Allenby manipulated
him into agreeing to return to the battlefield, and they discussed
Lawrence's strategy of guerilla warfare paralyzing the Turks in
Well, if we can see it, so can the Turk. If he finds he's using
four divisions to fend off a handful of bandits, he'll withdraw.
Lawrence: He dammed withdraw. Arabia's part of his
empire. He gets out now, he knows he'll never get back again.
Attending Officer: I wonder who will?
Lawrence: No one will. Arabia is for the Arabs now
… That's what I've told them anyway. … That's what they think.
… That's why they're fighting.
Allenby: [Allenby looks distant, snatches a cracker,
and throws it to the birds.] Oh surely.
Lawrence: They've only one suspicion — we let them
drive the Turks out and then move in ourselves. I've told them
that that's false, that we've no ambitions in Arabia. Have
Allenby: I'm not a politician, thank God. [Turning
to his attaché] Have we any ambition in Arabia, Dryden?
Dryden: [After a long draw on his drink.] Difficult
Lawrence: I want to know, sir, if I can tell them
in your name, that we've no ambitions in Arabia.
Allenby: [He puts down his drink, emphatically.]
difficult to know at this point who is more cynical, Allenby or
Lawrence. Lawrence is far clever enough to know the subtleties of
language. Near the end of the film, Dryden accuses Lawrence of intellectual
dishonesty (though in my opinion, in a somewhat specious and self-serving
way) in this vein: “A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides
the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgot where he put
the meeting's end, and Allenby and his entourage have left Lawrence:
Are you really going to give them artillery, sir?
Colonel Brighton: I was wondering that sir — might
be deuce divil to get it back again.
Dryden: You give them artillery, and you've made
Allenby: Then I can't give them artillery, can I?
duplicitousness is obvious, but at least these betrayers seem wiser
than our own political geniuses, who seem never to think that their
own artillery will be turned against them, as with Al Qaeda. Or
maybe they don't care?
with the help of the Bedouins, Lawrence captures Damascus, and Allenby
so the waning empire of England was like the waxing empire of America
— as The Philippines were betrayed, so was Arabia betrayed.
Allenby and Lawrence accomplish their historic victories, two “civil
servants” (in the words of Dryden), one Sykes of England, and one
Picot of France, have already carved up the Eastern World in a manner
that has caused us sorrow u2018til this day, and may well lead to WW
European theater was being handled no better. Synthetic and imaginary
nation-states were being created that would breed the hatred leading
to WW II.
Revisited, Erik von Kühnelt-Leddihn (another ironic
proponent of colonialism) notes the profound lack of knowledge President
Wilson had in matters that would shape at least the next hundred
ignorance of the former president of Princeton in matters of history
and geography was simply prodigious. The Italians at one point
showed him a spurious map on which a mountain, fittingly named
“Vetta d'Italia,” appeared in the very heart of Austria; it served
as proof, they claimed, that “historic Italy” (there was never
such a country) extended right to that spot. As a result the Italians,
for the first time ever, received the South and Central Tyrol
with the Brenner Pass. (The second time occurred in 1946, with
the result that the shooting and dynamiting in this restless,
tortured area continues to this very day.) Harold Nicholson, who
was at the Peace Conference, expressed in writing the current
feeling that “if Wilson would swallow the Brenner, he would swallow
everything.” Terrified later by his own mistakes, Wilson strove
to prevent the annexation of Fiume (predominantly inhabited by
Italians) by Italy, and somewhat undiplomatically toured the country
to appeal to the Italians over the heads of their government.
our current knowledge any better?
of the Future?
right, let's look at the arguments of our wannabe intellectual leaders.
It would seem that since the “English and Teutonic-speaking peoples”
have had their run, it's America's turn at colonialism.
have to compliment these folks on one thing: audacity. With
unparalleled didactic exuberance they describe the omnipresent empire
of their dreams.
the 15 October issue of The Weakly Standard, Max Boot, the
Features editor for The War Shriek Journal, makes “The
Case for American Empire: The most realistic response to terrorism
is for America to embrace its imperial role.”
know, I haven't been around that long (please do not attempt
to discern my age from the retouched photograph at the bottom of
this essay), but I remember a time when the strongest admonition
regarding manners was that you might do as you please, “as long
as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.”
because of the insidiousness of our culture's decay, I'm not even
shocked by the behavior of the characters on the nation's favorite
television sitcom, Fops and Sluts (I believe the working
title is Friends); but, I am utterly amazed at the brazen
use of the words “imperialism” and “colonialism,” and I fear it
might indeed frighten the horses. Youngsters across this great land,
I assure you, not many years have passed since these words would
not dare be uttered in mixed company.
if I can be certain that only adults are present, let's take a look
at Boot's thesis:
HAVE SUGGESTED THAT THE September 11 attack on America was payback
for U.S. imperialism. If only we had not gone around sticking
our noses where they did not belong, perhaps we would not now
be contemplating a crater in lower Manhattan. The solution is
obvious: The United States must become a kinder, gentler nation,
must eschew quixotic missions abroad, must become, in Pat Buchanan’s
phrase, “a republic, not an empire.” In fact this analysis is
exactly backward: The September 11 attack was a result of insufficient
American involvement and ambition; the solution is to be more
expansive in our goals and more assertive in their implementation.
you thought I was exaggerating!
Boot is careful to distinguish himself from such marginal radicals
as Pat Buchanan and the former President Bush. He mocks eschewing
quixotic missions abroad, but Mr. Boot is indeed tilting at windmills.
What does he hold up as the shining example of American imperialistic
accomplishment? Why, the Balkans, of course!
had better sense when it came to the Balkans, which could without
much difficulty have turned into another Afghanistan. When Muslim
Bosnians rose up against Serb oppression in the early 1990s, they
received support from many of the same Islamic extremists who
also backed the mujahedeen in Afghanistan. The Muslims of Bosnia
are not particularly fundamentalist — after years of Communist
rule, most are not all that religious — but they might have been
seduced by the siren song of the mullahs if no one else had come
to champion their cause. Luckily, someone else did. NATO and the
United States intervened to stop the fighting in Bosnia, and later
in Kosovo. Employing its leverage, the U.S. government pressured
the Bosnian government into expelling the mujahedeen. Just last
week, NATO and Bosnian police arrested four men in Sarajevo suspected
of links to international terrorist groups. Some Albanian hotheads
next tried to stir up trouble in Macedonia but, following the
dispatch of a NATO peacekeeping force, they have now been pressured
to lay down their arms. U.S. imperialism — a liberal and humanitarian
imperialism, to be sure, but imperialism all the same — appears
to have paid off in the Balkans.
is deeply embarrassing — in one paragraph: we have helped Bosnian
Moslems free themselves from “Serbian oppression” (“The West” had
such “evidence” as a faked (not
irresponsible, faked) television documentary on “Serbian
concentration camps,” the “Srebrenica
Massacre,” etc.); we were fortunate, because the Bosnian Moslems
were free of religious fervor from their days under the Commies
(Praise Allah for the Commies!), and because they were in no way
influenced by Islamic mullahs (I don't buy it); forced the Bosnians
to (apparently not) expel the mujahedeen, arrested four “men” linked
to terrorism (read four “Moslem men,” out of probably thousands
operating there), and (very temporarily) squelched Albanian ambitions
what he doesn’t bother mentioning is that we destroyed one
of the world's oldest Christian states, large-scale ethnic cleansing
in Kosovo by Moslems has taken place, 100,000 Bosnian passports
have gone missing, there’s that funny little linkage to Al Qaeda,
and Greater Albania is growing still.
let us not overlook the most obvious: we're still there, and
there's no sign we're leaving anytime soon.
in what sounds more like a fashion statement than a strategy, he
tells us that “Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out
for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided
by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.” Note:
watch out for all words that contain the syllables “en-light-en”
— this seems to be the preeminent obsession of leftists. (Mark Steyn
also announces that “colonialism is progressive and enlightened.”)
Indeed, he calls bin Laden a “holy warrior who rejects the Enlightenment
and all its works.” I’m sure we can be expecting the pagan equivalent
of a fatwah from Mr. Boot any day now against LRC.
under what auspices will this enlightened foreign administration
take place? “This precedent could easily be extended, as suggested
by David Rieff, into a formal system of United Nations mandates
modeled on the mandatory territories sanctioned by …” Yes, that’s
right, you guessed it, more of the same from all those fine folks
who brought you WW II, and probably WW III: ” … the League of Nations
much fun as The Weakly Standard is, let’s take a look at
our beloved Irrational Review.
course, Jonah Goldberg read the Boot piece, and was he thrilled.
In Goldberg's 12 October column titled “Raise
the flag on a new American empire,” he lauded the Boot piece,
but also takes care to recognize his fellow travelers on the left:
Post columnist, E.J. Dionne, the intellectual conscience of
the Democratic Party, has already declared this a “just war.”
The liberal New Republic is hectoring President Bush from
his right and demanding a broad commitment to rearranging the
the most revealing canary in the liberal coal mine, Scott Simon,
the host of National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” and a Quaker,
recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal that his fellow
pacifists must abandon their knee-jerk anti-militarism and support
the war effort.
Jonah still seems to think that warmongering (as opposed to defense)
is a characteristic of the right, and he almost seems to be surprised
to find he's in agreement with National Propaganda Radio and the
War Shriek Journal! (And I guess The Friends Church isn't
what it used to be.)
course, Brother Jonah has been harping for a return to colonialism
for quite some time. His 3 May 2000 column, “A
Continent Bleeds,” and his follow-up 10 May column, “Jonah
Goldberg's African Invasion,” are, um, interesting.
his friends at The Weekly Standard, Brother Jonah's foreign
policy sounds more like high school football.
asks “What Good Is Being #1?” This reminds me of a story about a
high-level meeting Chairman Powell was attending. Mad Madeleine
Albright, angry at Powell's reticence to use the military, whined
(I'm paraphrasing), “What good is it to have the world's most powerful
military if we can't use it?” As Mr. Powell related this incident,
he also reported a rise in his blood pressure. Seriously, sir,
stay away from the salt — we need you. But, Ms. Albright's question
is a good one. I wonder if the answer lies in the founders' not
favoring a standing military? If there is one universal tenet regarding
any government agency, it is this: if it exists, there will be found
a use for it.
his namesake, Brother Jonah misses the point. The prophet Jonah
is given the power to witness to Ninevah their impending destruction
according to their grievous sins. But the most unusual and extraordinary
thing happens — they listen to Jonah, and of their own free will,
they repent. So The Lord spares them. But because the prophecy doesn't
come to pass, Jonah feels like a fool, and mourns the loss of the
power that was never his.
there seems to be little room in Brother Jonah's mind for free will
he wants to make clear to us is that his form of colonialism, as
he so graciously expresses, doesn't “mean ripping off poor countries
… [and] setting tribes against one another and paying off corrupt
u2018leaders' to keep down unrest. I mean going in — blazing if necessary
— for truth and justice.” He left out “and The American Way!” I
really would not have expected an übermensch such as Brother
Jonah to make such an oversight.
he obviously has at least some advertising acuity. He notes that
“I think it's time we revisited the notion of a new kind of Colonialism
— though we shouldn't call it that.” Indeed, this would be a very
poor pr move.
his campaign to colonize the whole of Africa is perfect for Madison
Avenue — lots of form, and no substance. He admits that the idea
of “American Greatness … mostly pushed by our friends at The
Weekly Standard, is a fairly amorphous notion …”
admire Brother Jonah's honesty regarding the amorphousness of the
imperial plans of the leftists at The Weekly Standard and
National Review, but the debate on “American Greatness” has
not been among (real) conservatives, and has most certainly not
been about its inherent merits.
course, those pesky little details can be worked out later.
to be certain — Brother Jonah and his marauding monks may not know
exactly what they want, but they sure do want it. “We should
put American troops in harm's way. We should not be surprised that
Americans will die doing the right thing.” Interesting language
— perhaps a bit Freudian? Isn't the purpose of a military goal to
accomplish mission success while minimizing harm to our American
troops? It almost sounds as though we must make an oblation of blood
to the god of American Greatness.
The aforementioned Max Boot recently made a similar complaint in
The Wall Street Journal:
is not a war being won with American blood and guts. It is being
won with the blood and guts of the Northern Alliance, helped by
copious quantities of American ordnance and a handful of American
advisers. After Sept. 11, President Bush promised that this would
not be another bloodless, push-button war, but that is precisely
what it has been.
in what sounds a lot more confused than amorphous, Brother Jonah
says his American Dream “would be a display of arrogance of historic
proportions, even a crusade,” but “wouldn't be a military one,”
but then again “cannot be merely an armed invasion…” (All
these phrases were actually in one paragraph.) Huh?!
in order to prove his conservative credentials, Brother Jonah takes
a few perverse stabs at the right, such as this: “I'm as romantic
as the next guy about preserving traditional cultures and communities.”
You see, it's not about that old-fashioned idea of sovereignty,
it's really all about quaintness. He also instructs us that
the United States should be Equal Opportunity Murderers: “We should
not be squeamish, either, about the fact that (mostly white) Americans
will kill some black Africans in the process.”
Jonah would also like to enlist “evangelical churches.” Cute. He
knows that among the “evangelical churches” are likely to be found
the most patriotic citizens in America. I suspect he's also hoping
they won't think too much. He's likely to be disappointed on all
counts. I believe the balance of American Christians know the difference
between nationalism and patriotism.
also suspect he wants to enlist the churches only inasmuch as they
are of the variety suggested by that Bombastic Barbie Ann Coulter,
that would champion “killing all their leaders and converting them
for the most part, it's difficult to find even a pretense of anything
resembling the right in his assertions. Instead, we find comments
like “America should do big things to fulfill its destiny, and conservatives
should not shy from the idea that government must do these big things,”
and “We should spend billions upon billions doing it.”
since the raison dêtre of our new crusaders is to “mount
a serious effort to bring civilization” to the dark corners of the
world, Brother Jonah includes an homage to his intellectual forebears,
noting that “there are, of course, ingredients to civilization other
than the rudimentary scientific assumptions
of the Enlightenment.” More references to the atheistic Enlightenment?
I'm glad, at least, that our new crusaders are all on the same page.
as Brother Jonah proclaims, “The whole point is to enlighten, not
just dominate.” That's right, not just dominate, but dominate
with a reason — as opposed to those that dominate with no
Jonah assures us that the new colonialists won't make the same mistakes
as the past. “It might also be necessary to erase a lot of the pernicious
boundaries created by the colonialists…” Yes, those were the
old colonialists. We'll draw new borders, because we know so
much now about the entire African continent, their history, their
grievances against one another, their claims to territory — just
like Woodrow Wilson did about the obscure European continent.
also assures us that “being imperial is not necessarily a bad thing.
The British Empire … didn't care about the u2018sovereignty' of other
nations when it came to an evil institution. They didn't care about
the u2018rule of international law,' they made law with the barrel of
glad Brother Jonah knows his Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung:
“Every Communist must understand this truth: Political power grows
out of the barrel of a gun. Our principle is that the party commands
the gun; the gun shall never be allowed to command the party.”
of commies, Mr. Buckley told us some half-century ago that his brand
of “conservatism” was only a transitional form, but necessary, because
even the radical growth of the state was necessitated by the threat
of communism. Well, the threat of communism is gone — and we're
what of new threats, real or perceived? The state was still growing
by leaps and bounds before 11 September, and it's demonstrative
of the carelessness and cowardice of so-called “patriots” that they
vote for bills that sew the seeds of tyranny.
enough of Brother Jonah.
on a closing note, he does admit that “… most of the founders would
probably be horrified by my proposal, and that should make any conservative
pause.” Let's leave it at that.
not all proponents of colonialism are youngsters. There are some
quite older fellows that wish to pass along the worst habits of
the last century.
inestimable historian Paul Johnson is one such man, and he is, among
many other things, a contributor to National Review.
enough, Johnson is no stranger to the folly of man. If there is
only one thesis that his eloquent history Modern
Times expresses, it is that social engineering, treating
man like so much concrete, is the great tragedy of the twentieth
century. (One of the chapter titles is “Experimenting with half
Modern Times was obviously named after the famous Charlie
Chaplin film, where the worker, attempting to oil the gears,
is caught in, and becomes part of, the machinery.
explore his vision of tomorrow in the 18 April 1993 column in The
New York Times Magazine, titled “Colonialism's Back — and Not
a Moment Too Soon : Let's face it: Some countries are just not fit
to govern themselves.”
irony of this article is that it was written after 4 December 1992,
when Bush I launched the Somalia intervention, but just before the
escalation and subsequent disaster in Mogadishu. It was such a disaster
that both candidates Bush and Gore expressed unique regret, among
all interventions, with respect to Somalia. Now this begs the question
— should we be listening to people like Mr. Johnson?
writes that “a historic line was crossed when American marines landed
in Somalia — without any request, because no government existed.”
No government? Oh, I'm sure someone was around to steal their
unrequested intervention is held up as the goal for the Ultimate
new order “would be empowered not merely to impose order by force,
but to assume political functions. They would in effect be possessed
of sovereign powers.” I guess there are some pretty stringent requirements
in acquiring membership in that club of “sovereign powers.” Incidentally,
Johnson's “not merely to impose order by force” sounds a
lot like Brother Jonah's “not merely an armed invasion.”
Has Mr. Johnson been tutoring Brother Jonah? This is what I’m afraid
reminds us that “in the 1980s … Western powers showed a renewed
willingness to use force in what they believed to be right.” This
force was demonstrated by England and America against the colossi
of the Falklands and Grenada, respectively. But, I suppose it's
time to think a little bigger.
Goldberg, Johnson doesn't want anyone to think he's racist, so he
assures his audience that “the new colonialism is not just about
white men running the affairs of nonwhite countries but can involve
intervention in Europe …” Well thank heavens for that! Indeed, like
Boot, Johnson holds up the “direct military intervention in the
internal affairs of the former Yugoslavia” as the epitome of success.
reassures us that “Happily, the civilized powers need not get stuck
in the old colonial quagmire, because they have the example of the
trusteeship system before them.” Trust us, it's all worked out
he tells us, “was a notion derived from English common law in which
a child was made a ward of the court until attaining the age of
21.” This harkens a commandment that our new colonialists would
do well to heed: “Thou shalt not provoke your children to anger.”
vision is that “their mandate would usually be of limited duration
— 5, 10, 20 years, for example — and subject to supervision by the
Security Council; and their ultimate object would be to take constitutional
measures to insure a return to effective self government with all
deliberate speed.” It's not that I don't trust that they'll do some
quite smashing things on their little excursions, it's just the
“all deliberate speed” part of which I'm a little wary, especially
when Johnson throws out lengths of time like “20 years.” He continues,
“The trustees should not plan to withdraw until they are reasonably
certain that the return to independence will be successful this
time. So the mandate may last 50 years, or 100.” Say what?
50, 100? That's not colonialism — that's more like a high colonic!
And if we employ a typical MCM (for those not familiar, that's Mission
Creep Multiplier) of 10, then we can be out of there in only one
are our little children that we're supposed to train to be independent?
Talk about empty nest syndrome!
in the end, we'll have the “unspoken gratitude of millions of misgoverned
or ungoverned people.” Personally, I think ungoverned people are
already happy. But doesn't the phrase “unspoken gratitude”
sound a little suspicious?
Johnson also recently voiced his opinions in the 15 October 2001
National Review in a column titled “u2018Relentlessly
and Thoroughly' The only way to respond.”
object of this piece (or any pro-colonial piece) is to paint a picture
of Islamic backwardness, so that their defeat and subsequent colonialism
begins by telling us that “Islam is an imperialist religion, more
so than Christianity has ever been, and in contrast to Judaism.”
Wait a minute — I'm confused. Imperialism good, or imperialism
bad? Incidentally, I think this sentence is a little awkward.
Christianity imperialistic? So the trumped-up charges against
Jesus were legitimate? I think “so-called Christian states”
might read better than “Christianity.”
to the Quoran, Johnson tells us that “These canonical commands cannot
be explained away or softened by modern theological exegesis, because
there is no such science in Islam.” This isn't exactly consistent
with the scholarship of Alan
Jones, who taught Arabic and Islamic studies at Oxford from 1957-2000,
and who states that the main difference between the Quoran of the
Sunni and the Shi'is
in exegesis (tafsir), which is crucial: for although the
Koran declares itself to be “clear,” its rhetorical nature often
calls out for explanation, and through the centuries pious and
learned scholars have written a whole series of commentaries that
show scholarship of the highest quality.
continues, “Unlike Christianity, which, since the Reformation and
Counter Reformation, has continually updated itself and adapted
to changed conditions, and unlike Judaism, which has experienced
what is called the 18th-century Jewish enlightenment, Islam remains
a religion of the Dark Ages.” We are to now envision the most filthy
and barbaric conditions, and shudder. No education. No clean water.
No underarm deodorant. No table manners. None of the blessings of
is a particularly peculiar statement since the Islamic world of
the early Middle Ages far exceeded the culture, science, and technology
of the contemporaneous West. And in fact, it was the Arab races
who preserved the Greek classics, which allowed the “re-discovery”
of them by the West.
now Johnson delivers the coup de grace, “The 7th-century
Koran is still taught as the immutable word of God, any teaching
of which is literally true. In other words, mainstream Islam is
essentially akin to the most extreme form of Biblical fundamentalism.”
Gadzooks! Not that! We all know how backward those people
knows that when the word “literalism” (whatever that means) is employed,
we're to picture those ignorant in-breeding Appalachian Christians
who take the Bible seriously, of whom obviously the Wahabbi Muslims
are our close theological cousins.
ultimately, Johnson misses the point. In fact, I cannot figure out
why he included this passage:
Crusades, as it happened, fatally weakened the Greek Orthodox
Byzantine Empire, the main barrier to the spread of Islam into
southeast and central Europe. As a result of the fall of Constantinople
to the ultra-militant Ottoman Sultans, Islam took over the entire
Balkans, and was threatening to capture Vienna and move into the
heart of Europe as recently as the 1680s.
decided the first casualty of war is not truth, but irony.
How about an alternative reading of the above?
Balkan War, as it happened, fatally weakened the Serbian Orthodox
Christians, the main barrier to the spread of Islam into southeast
and central Europe. As a result of the fall of Sarajevo to the
ultra-militant Albanian Moslems, Islam took over the entire Balkans,
and was threatening to capture Vienna and move into the heart
of Europe as recently as the 1980s.
exactly, but close enough — and in ways, worse. Aside from America's
illegal, immoral, and ignorant persecution of Serbia, the tidal
wave of Islamic immigrants into the “heart of Europe” threaten
the existence of the Western World. (E.g., Sam
Francis on VDARE.com informs us that Berlin is the third largest
Turkish city in the world.) And let us not forget the Bosnian
connection or the Albanian connection to Al Qaeda.
Will Not Be Silenced
never before appreciated the dictum, “War is the health of the state,”
as now. Before 11 September, I was able to discuss these same
issues with the same people, and they were mostly in
agreement with me; but now they can't be broached. Not just specifically,
they can't even be discussed in theory.
received heartfelt letters, some from active and retired military
personnel, who have experienced the same thing.
as the weeks pass, things seem to be loosening up a bit.
the meantime, here's a November
1993 letter to First Things editor Richard John Neuhaus
from Thomas Molnar, another who has served his country, but is not
afraid to criticize its government. Molnar is responding to Fr.
Neuhaus' thoughts on Paul Johnson's “new colonialism.” I am
compelled to include it in full:
regimes and races have a curious urge to “save the world” — from
sin and its secular variants like non-democratic regimes, and
now, in Fr. Neuhaus' words, from the status of “failed nations.”
A strange recommendation in view of the failure of Woodrow Wilson,
Franklin Roosevelt, and George Bush to save the world, make it
safe for democracy, abolish fear, and institute a new world order.
The recommendation is even more misplaced in the eyes of one like
me who saw the Congo in the early 1960s occupied by UN troops,
mostly from India, who plundered the territory, appropriated UN
material and weapons, and whom the population feared and detested.
From the Congo to Somalia, Cambodia, and Bosnia, the UN has done
precious little to be entrusted with rule over “failed nations.”
Besides, who is going to define “failure”? Big Brother?
a more theoretical plane, why not consider that failure in the
Third World may be, just may be, the consequence of Western imposition
of political structures — democracy, pluralism, even statehood
— that are alien to local tradition and mentality. If so, the
Western doctor cures with one hand and causes disease with the
other. I shudder in anticipation of the day of UN tutelage over
the “failed nation” of Hungary, decided, let's say, with the votes
of Bucharest and Belgrade.
is the United States so pure (elsewhere in the issue Fr. Neuhaus
speaks of the “stench of decaying empire”), so secure from failure
itself, that we can confidently dictate to a world that has recently
gotten rid of another uninvited tutor?
T. E. Lawrence had occupied Damascus, he was approached by a medical
officer. The MO was complaining that the Arab Council (which was
rapidly disintegrating) had overlooked the Turkish Military Hospital.
Lawrence looked into it.
one of the most memorable scenes of the film, Lawrence approaches
the makeshift hospital, which is an open-air structure, filthy,
and fly infested. He desperately tries to find water, finds a spigot,
turns the knob, but nothing comes out. English medical officers
arrive. A pompous-ass officer approaches the hospital, and as he
sees the conditions, is filled with righteous indignation, “This
is outrageous. OUTu2014RAGEOUS!”
looks at Lawrence (who is still in Bedouin dress, with his face
covered), and yells “Outrageous!” Lawrence, exhausted, frustrated,
and seeing the irony of the officer's reaction, starts laughing.
The officer screams, “You filthy little wog!” and slaps Lawrence
to the ground, but he continues to laugh.
is the last time we see Lawrence in Bedouin dress.)
us be convinced, all empires finish exhausted and unappreciated.
the last dialogue of the movie, Dryden remarks on the final draft
of negotiations between England and Prince Feisal, “Well, it looks
as though we're going to have an English water works with an Arab
flag on it!” Prince Feisal asks, “Well, Mr. Dryden, you seem to
be the architect of this agreement, what do you think of it?”
dryly answers, “On the whole, I wish I'd stayed in Tunbridge Wells.”
of Englishmen, dear Mr. Johnson, might you, kind sir, eschew regaling
the lads at National Review and The Weekly Standard
with tales of the salad days of English colonialism? You see, they're
at that impressionable age. You understand.
certain you can find something else to amuse yourself, perhaps even
in your native England. Perhaps gardening? That's a good English
gentleman's pastime, isn't it?
Dunaway [send him
mail] is a chemical engineer and a native Texan.