Thursday, October 12, 2006

Dennis Dale on Imperialism

From Dennis Dale:
Rove and Bush have long benefited by the sense of unrelenting cultural siege felt by those who have no place in the Democrats' hierarchy of grievance, those on whom it is always open season: traditionalist white Christians. People generally too immersed in the day to day business of work and family (that is to say, perpetuating the life of the nation) to be expected to invest the necessary time to unravel the ever increasing layers of Fox News bullshit disguising the true nature of current foreign policy. They trusted their leaders; that is, the ones who weren’t telling them they were hopeless troglodytes consigned to historical obscurity because they have misgivings about the post haste dismantling of any and all moral tradition.

Bush addressed their most exigent concerns, not with substance certainly, but with words. Then again, where else were they to go? The Democratic Party has abandoned them to the predations of corporate power and globalization with as much enthusiasm as the Republicans and, when it isn’t ignoring them completely, portrays them as the bogeyman with which they stir up the fears of their rubes. And all the while, the global designs of imperial conquest abroad and cultural dissolution at home proceed unheeded.

Well said. But the rest of the post tediously pretends that Bush launched a program of imperial expansion ex nihlo. Such ignores that Bush entered office on campaign promises to curb the military deployments of the Clinton administration. And then, September 11. The imperative to go after Islamic terrorists and their sponsors took us into Afghanistan, and the [mistaken] belief that Saddam was actively pursuing WMD in violation of the terms of the 1991 cease-fire took us into Iraq. Now, if Mr. Dale wants to characterize our "nation building" efforts in Iraq as "imperialism," I would point out that this is a novel definition of imperialism as it has been historically practiced. But, okay, whatever. It's a definition, so who cares? But surely Mr. Dale has the decency to admit that Bush, more than anyone, wants the popularly elected government of Iraq to assume responsibility for its own internal security and otherwise govern as humanely and rationally as possible?

Which of course, it cannot do, for "humane" and "rational" are not means equal to the end sought. Bush's project for Iraq is animated by the same Liberal Universalism that constrains the entire debate on the Iraq war and our foreign policy toward the Muslim Middle East in general. Which is why our failure there is inevitably described as a failure of "planning," and "competence," and, in the case of the left, "Bush lied," "Bush is evil," "Bush is an imperialist," "Bush is enriching Haliburton," "Bush didn't have the U.N.," and all manner of either outright misrepresentations of the facts or irrelevencies.

Mr. Dale, I gather, is skeptical of Liberal Universalism as a matter of first principles. He shouldn't need to resort to this kind of thing, and it is a shame that he does.

Update: Damn! Chris Roach already said all this, and better.

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