During the coming weeks there will emerge various American personalities and policies in Iraq that have not been exposed to public discussion or debate. This is intentional. The raging battle for postwar power has brought out the best in both agencies: ideology, arrogance, and career promotion. Even Senator Dick Lugar complained, and that means it’s serious.
At stake is the most venerated and cherished goal of American policymakers. Turf.
George W. Bush came to Washington pledging to “change its ways,” but the lifers at State and Defense consider presidents to be mere political appointees. Their careers, their egos, and their power are on the line.
So now the real war begins. For the most part, of course, it proceeds in secret. So we will not know — and neither will the Iraqis — just what these prime-time Pashas will deliver in terms of a “legitimate, democratic” government in Iraq. Hence, in the spirit of the via negativa of Saint Thomas Aquinas, let us consider what it will not be.
Iraqi democracy will not feature the principles of limited government bequeathed to America by the Founding Fathers. Our founders carefully preserved the principles of Magna Carta, of the Common Law, of the humility and civic virtue that shine throughout the Federalist Papers. But Iraq does not share these traditions with us. They are not mere abstractions, they constitute our own unique historical record of a thousand years and more.
Bureaucrats at both State and Defense have spurned this tradition as well, in favor of political modernity’s secular socialism. The American proconsuls in Iraq will not regard power-lust as a vice, as our Founding Fathers did. They will seek no connection to tradition.
In fact, everything that the Iraqis will see as our bureaucrats battle for turf will imply the opposite. Power is the greatest spoil of modern war. The present chaos is the greatest opportunity in a generation for American bureaucrats to enter, stage left. They will renew the face of the earth, while the Iraqis are relegated to the bleachers.
Nor will Iraq’s imposed regime reflect either our own traditions of Christendom, or theirs of Islam. Quite the contrary: their tyrant Saddam modeled himself on Stalin. Our intellectuals and bureaucrats model themselves on Trotsky, on Kant, on Marx, on Strauss, and, ultimately and unanimously, on Rousseau. For these men, religion was merely a convenient civil means to control the masses. Americans will fight Islam’s traditions.
For starters, our “aid” agencies are already battling to send into Iraq apostles of “reproductive freedom,” as they have done in Christian and Moslem countries worldwide, local cultures be damned. Our emancipated missionaries of secular democracy glory in coaxing these “backward” peoples into the twenty-first century with hand-operated vacuum abortion machines and condom distributions. However much this spectacle offends the people, the Iraqi government installed by our warlords will not object — any more than has Afghanistan’s, where the Red Cross complained after the fall of Kabul because Afghan men were so backward that they refused to use condoms with their wives.
Socialist bureaucrats won’t encourage private property in Iraq either. After all, they imposed “land reform” throughout the third world, ruining economies from Viet Nam to El Salvador, for decades. They secretly used U.S. taxpayer funds to finance political campaigns of anti-American socialists throughout Latin America during the Reagan years. And they fired or exiled any Reagan official naive enough to promote free-enterprise programs that might lead to true economic independence for developing countries. This was the practice of Reagan’s director of AID, Peter McPherson, who is now the president of Michigan State University. (Funny, he told me he had not put his own Michigan farm up for expropriation by Michigan’s poor farm laborers. Must’ve slipped his mind.)
These world warriors do not consider themselves a political class. Rather, they are literally above politics. They consider limits on political power as impediments to their ideological programs. Whether at State or Defense, as secular imperialists they have more in common intellectually with Saddam Hussein than they do with the Founding Fathers. For many of them, our “glory days” were back when Stalin was our ally.
These people have swallowed that old feminist canard called “consciousness-raising.” To the average bloke like you and me, this term might imply “getting a little more education.” Far from it. To the imperialist ideologue, it represents the acquiring of a new nature, different from and superior to the rest of routine, grimy, and unremarkable mankind. Its gnostic roots are centuries old, and its political platform was already well developed when Kant wrote his “Perpetual Peace” in 1795. Oblivious to the American founding and the French Terror, he pompously announced that intellectuals have natures that are not susceptible to the evils that plague ordinary politicians. Marx and Hegel quickly took him up on it, and so have our modern secular materialists, both of the traditional Marxist and the neoconservative variety. From Marx they derive their arrogance, and their ugly invective when challenged.
In the present struggle, the neocons have a more dynamic view of imperialism, inherited from Trotsky, which they have superimposed on their programme for American domination of the Middle East, and then the world. Because of this revolutionary dynamism, I predict that they will win the turf battle, and that the appratchiks at the State Department will be playing second fiddle before long in the International Imperialist Memorial Choir featuring the String of Perles. But I digress.
While we cannot see the future, we can realistically assume that America’s design for postwar Iraq will be secular and socialist. The American elites directing the show are bereft of any other vocabulary, and, moreover, they are bereft of the public virtues that Christendom and the American Founders recognize as indispensable to limited government. “Those who refuse to govern themselves by the laws of God,” said William Penn, “will be ruled by tyrants.”
Of course, as Socrates pointed out, you can always be the tyrant yourself.
We can hardly expect that Iraqi families will stand up and cheer when the condom trucks roll into town blaring rap music on “Radio Sawa.” From “liberated” Iraq, American bureaucrats will start saturating the Middle East with Hollywood values in a hundred ways, aiming to attract the young people and turn them against their parents and the traditional social and religious principles they represent. One way or another, they will get their revolution
Let’s not kid ourselves. The America we are exporting to the Middle East is secular and materialist. Our glorification of “diversity” deprives us of the “self-evident truths” of Thomas Jefferson. The imperialist intellectual is no philosopher. He has been raised above bourgeois “truth.” He loves his own glorified ego, and why not? He is now endowed with a superhuman nature that is immune to temptation.
When Stalinist Todor Zhivkov, who ruled Bulgaria ruthlessly for 30 years, finally went on trial in 1991, he brazenly defied the court on the first day. He proclaimed that, as a member of the Communist Party, he was above the law because the party made the law. The law was whatever he said it was.
This outburst succinctly summarizes the mind of the secular ideologue.
Hence the gravity of the present crisis, and the challenge that faces what is left of our free republic. Being Trotskyites — by tradition or by intellectual choice — America’s secular revolutionaries indignantly brand anyone attempting to limit their power as “fascists,” “racists,” “traitors,” or worse. They simply cannot conceive, with their superior consciousness, that they can do any wrong, because they decide what is right and wrong.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the father of totalitarian democracy and the guiding light of the intellectual imperialists, conceived of a sovereign who would rule with an iron hand, guided by a mythical “general will” that was always right — indeed, the source of all right. Rousseau’s sovereign does not interpret the general will himself; that is done by the “legislateur,” an advisor so intellectually gifted that he is a “mortal god,” the “giver of life.” Like Mr. Zhivkov, whatever he says, is law.
So, Jean-Jacques, once the U.S. installs a “legitimate, democratic” government in Iraq advised by an American “legislateur,” what happens if someone refuses to obey?
“He must be forced to be free.”
Christopher Manion [send him mail] writes from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.