that the humanitarian warrior Bill Clinton has been replaced by a compassionate
conservative extremely close to the oil industry, military-industrial-complex,
and Christian Right/"pro- life" (fetal, that is, not post-fetal) forces, what
may we expect in foreign policy? Funny thing is that Clinton, though a
tremendous blow-hard, did a lot of killing with only a moderate amount of
windbaggery (Herman, "Clinton Is the World’s Leading Active War Criminal," Z,
Dec. 1999). The compassionate conservative and his National Security team are
talking more pugnaciously, but haven’t done much death dealing yet, and I don’t
expect them to surpass Clinton on this front, although this is little more than
a guess, and they haven’t had much time to act. An elemental theory of their
pugnacity is that it is based on their need to justify an enlarged military
budget, close to their interests, big donor links, and rightwing ideology (the
MIC is not part of "government," which needs shrinking, it protects our
"national security," always under dire threat). North Korea and the rest have to
be troublesome and threats have to be manufactured to meet the demand for
plausible rogues and super-rogues (China, Russia); otherwise, justifying the
growing military budget could be difficult.
Uncle Chutzpah is getting back into the ring for eminently practical reasons,
although admittedly some of the compassionate conservative’s advisers are a bit
nuts. Paradoxically, though, because some of them are nuts and obviously ready
to kill, and don’t have to prove their super-patriotic and looney credentials,
they may have less need to actually dispense death than a Bill Clinton, and they
might even be obliged to show a reasonableness and restraint that a weak and
opportunistic "liberal" might consider a political liability.
Uncle does get back into the ring it is fun to watch how he continues his long
practice of arrogating to himself rights he denies others, while at the same
time getting very indignant when these inferiors presume to do what he does all
the time. The recent ouster of 50 Russians upon discovery that the Russians spy
on us– my God, how amazing, and how audacious of them! They apparently fail to
understand that only we can spy. And the Chinese, objecting to our spy planes on
their coast, do not recognize that our planes themselves are "sovereign"
territory, while the Chinese mainland has a more dubious status. They must
accept the fact that Uncle Chutzpah has long done this kind of spying and will
continue to do it to advance our "national security," until they can pose a
credible military response to Uncle’s intrusions.
Uncle’s officials’ sense of a natural right to dominate goes back into the
nineteenth century, but I used to read to my students a beauty from 1954,
shortly after the Chinese Communist victory, when U.S. officials and pundits
were already claiming that the CHINESE were planning on subverting everywhere:
Representative Frederick R. Coudert. Did I correctly understand you to say that
the heart of the present policy toward China and Formosa is that there is to be
kept alive a constant threat of military action vis-a-vis Red China in the hope
that at some point there will be an internal break- down?
Walter S. Robertson, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. Yes,
sir. That is my conception.
Coudert. In other words, a cold war waged under the leadership of the United
States, with constant threat of attack against China, led by Formosa and other
Far Eastern groups, and militarily backed by the United States?
Coudert. Fundamentally, does this mean that the United States is undertaking to
maintain for an indefinite period of years American dominance in the Far East?
Robertson. Yes. Exactly.
(Hearings before the House Committee on Appropriations, Jan. 26, 1954.)
used to substitute names and words into this exchange making it a Chinese
exchange, then asking the students if the exchange demonstrated that the claims
of intended Chinese subversion and aggression were not justified. Naturally,
they all said: clearly and obviously. And most of them were pretty shaken when
it turned out to be an Uncle Chutzpah statement.
has also long denied anybody else the right of self- defense once he chooses a
violent course of action. When Uncle decided he was going to overthrow the
elected government of Guatemala in 1953-1954, and organized a little proxy army
in the then friendly-fascist state of Nicaragua preparatory to an invasion, the
Guatemalan government’s importation of a shipment of small arms from
Czechoslavakia caused hysteria in Washington and the mainstream media; that
government thought it had a right to defend itself when Uncle was organizing for
its ouster! The New York Times’s–and on and off State Department and Pentagon
official–Leslie Gelb, listed Vietnam as an "outlaw" in 1993, noting that "they
shot Americans"–who had invaded their country from across the ocean to impose a
government of U.S. choice, but whose people had no right to shoot at the
invaders. There is imperialist chutzpah for you. And of course Nicaragua had no
right to resist the terrorist contra army under U.S. sponsorship in the 1980s.
When the World Court found the United States guilty of the "unlawful use of
force" in this case and declared that it should pay reparations, the court had
obviously overstepped its authority and was therefore properly ignored. Only
when it agrees with Uncle has it (and the UN) found its proper vocation.
media of course always go along with Uncle in his principle that he is above the
law. The media apologetics for the overthrow of the democratic government of
Guatemala in 1954 was total; Gelb’s statement on Vietnam being an outlaw because
they "shot Americans" invading their country was hardly out of line; the New
York Times editorialized that the World Court was biased when it ruled in favor
of Nicaragua in 1986. And when Madeleine Albright stated that "We will act
multilaterally when we can, unilaterally as we must," implying that the United
States was not to be bound by UN or legal strictures, this elicited no
unfavorable mainstream media reaction.
media have reported that China’s lost pilot was "an aggressive ‘cowboy’"
(Philadelphia Inquirer, April 6, 2001), and that "Chinese Pilot Reveled in Risk,
U.S. Aides Say" (NYT, April 6, 2001). Well, if U.S. officials say this this is
surely worth featuring, rather than the Chinese claim that the collision
resulted from an aggressive action by the pilot of the spy plane. This reporting
also contrasts dramatically with the media’s treatment of a more compelling
report back in 1989 that Will Rogers, the U.S. naval commander of the Vincennes,
which shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in 1988 that killed 290 civilians,
was also an irresponsible cowboy. David Carlson, Commander of the USS Sides, a
naval vessel that had been in the vicinity of the Vincennes, wrote in the naval
publication Proceedings (September 1989), that under Rogers’ command the
Vincennes was "consistently aggressive" and that "’Robo cruiser’ was the
unamusing nickname" that naval people had given to his boat, which shot down an
airliner that was strictly on its assigned course. The New York Times never
mentioned this case of a "Robo Cruiser," nor did it ever report that this cowboy
was given a Legion of Merit award in 1989 for "meritorious service" for his work
on the Vincennes.
allegations of "cowboys" merit front page mention; others deserve black hole
treatment, on principles of selection that are all too obvious in what Michael
Massing calls "a great newspaper" (The Nation, April 16, 2001).