Buy French! Here's What I'm Doing...

Nothing shows more clearly the utter bankruptcy of Warrior Conservatism than the current boycotts of all things French.

Conservatives claim to believe in free-market economics. The great moral superiority of free-market economics, however, is that it substitutes choice for force — trade for war. Instead of people having to choose at the point of a gun (do what I want you to do, buy what I want you to buy, or you die, or at least get penalized) people choose based on what they want or desire, through trade and voluntary association.

We can only visualize what true free market economics would do for people, because there has never been such a golden age. What we can see is how steps toward free markets have helped people. In China alone, it has rescued at least 240 million people from starvation and abject poverty. Think about that. That's pretty darned close to the total population of the United States!

So what are the conservatives up to now? They're supporting Mr. Bush's naked imperialist aggression and showing their support by boycotting French products.

In other words, they are supporting brute force and boycotting voluntary choices through trade and cultural exchanges. Oh, they're not saying (yet) that you shouldn't be allowed to buy or see anything French, but they're going to try (at the least) to shame you into it by calling you "unpatriotic" if you do.

Well, this boycott thing can work both ways. I normally buy approximately 1/3 California wines, 1/3 Chilean wines, and 1/3 Australian wines. For the duration of Mr. Bush's war of aggression and occupation, I am cutting out the Australian and California wines. Their markets will have to suffer my absence because of the perfidy of their leaders. (To my wino friends in California: I know you don't consider yourself part of the United States, but really you are — technically. Get going on that secessionist movement.)

Chilean wines stay in, because the Chileans are against the war and their leaders had the guts to say so despite the fact that they're trying to get Congress to pass a free trade pact with them. And French wines will be added in recognition of their refusal to bow down to Mr. Bush's dictums. For the duration of Mr. Bush's war and occupation, my wine portfolio will consist of 1/2 Chilean wines and 1/2 French wines.

I'm also going to attend as many French cultural events as I can crowd into my busy schedule, and living in the Washington, D.C. metro area there are many opportunities. Hey, it's a real sacrifice for a single guy to go to events filled with beautiful French women, but somebody's got to do it.

Embedded Cheerleaders

We should start an office pool here on On what date will Secretary of Preemptive War Donald Rumsfeld shelve the "embedded" journalists program? How long will it last?

At the beginning it seemed like a good thing for the War Administration. As long as our troops were advancing across the desert like Arizona roadrunners, the imbedded journalists were sending home wildly enthusiastic reports, and home audience support for the war was predictably following a parallel path — up toward that 100 percent mark. Those "journalists" might better have been outfitted in college cheerleader uniforms than GI garb.

I don't blame the journalists too harshly, though, for this shortcoming. Our troops might be naive about the nature and intentions of their own government (so are most civilian Americans), but they are fine and brave soldiers and they aren't doing this out of evil intentions — they really believe they're going to be greeted as liberators and bring democracy to the Middle East, because that's what their Commander in Chief has told them. If you're in a convoy truck or tank or helicopter with these troopers, your fellow countrymen, it's only natural that you're going to empathize with them. This happens on a less heroic level with their fellow journalists back home, who get so close to the politicians they cover on a daily basis that they actually begin to think of them as honorable people. A journalist who really wants to remain independent has to avoid this sort of dilution of reason and objectivity through close contact.

Another bow to our embedded journalists: Unlike our neoconservative chickenhawks, who are safely ensconced back home, these journalists are taking real risks — perhaps more than they first realized. Some from other countries have already died for their stories.

Anyway, this worked for the first day or two of Mr. Bush's War. Then ugly reality reasserted itself. The Iraqis weren't playing by the rules set down by the Pentagon. As troubles began to mount over the first week, the embedded journalists began to report those troubles — sometimes before the military brass knew what was going on. We are now in the era of 24-hour news coverage, and that requires an awful lot of reportage. Once the initial adrenalin rush has worn off, you've got to be concerned about ratings. You're not going to pass up a story just because it's distasteful to the Pentagon brass.

Which is why I suspect someone in DOD is already being made the scapegoat for thinking up this embedded-journalist scheme. And why I wouldn't be the least surprised that our secretive War Administration comes up with some reason for terminating it, even though that would raise an uproar. The Pentagon might decide that a one-time uproar is better than a continuing embarrassment as it gets enmeshed in the Iraqi quagmire.

A Note to the Humorless

Justin Raimondo has aptly noted how the neoconservative ideologue "is immune to irony. Any sort of subtlety eludes him." So, if you're a neoconservative doing some slumming or spying on this antiwar site, I should explain that I don't mean to suggest that Iraq is conquering the US literally. They are conquering us because, in order to defeat them, we are abandoning the principles that set us apart from the rest of the world. We are becoming more like Saddam in the process of defeating him.

And I cannot take credit for this concept. Read William Graham Sumner's essay, "The Conquest of America by Spain," in which he demonstrated how America had adopted the militarist and imperialist agenda of its defeated opponent in the Spanish-American War.

March 28, 2003