What I Believe: Washington as Dangerous as Brussels

Autor: John Laughland | Publikováno: 16.7.2011 | Rubrika: English
USA

Ten years ago, I was vehemently pro-American. Like many British Conservatives (I use the capital ‘C’ deliberately, to denote supporters of The Conservative Party), I regarded the United States as almost the ideal society. More importantly, and also like many Conservatives, I regarded any questioning of the Anglo-American alliance as a taboo which was broken only by those whose views were dangerously and irredeemably left-wing. I believed that the main threat to my values came from the quasi-socialist political tradition of the European continent (a subject on which I wrote a book) and that the “Atlantic community” was the right response to, and defence from, that threat.
 
Now, ten years on, I have become completely the opposite. I am a consistent critic of American (and British) foreign policy and I have long since despaired of the Eurosceptic movement in Britain, especially on the Right, which excoriates France for an allegedly servile attitude towards Germany while at the same time demanding that Britain behave with the same servility towards Washington. British Tories say they defend British sovereignty against Brussels but they see nothing wrong in having Britain’s foreign and defence policy subjected entirely to America’s. Indeed, any suggestion that Britain should have an independent military policy, for instance by not belonging to NATO, is regarded as the wildest heresy.
 
The change, for me, began with the bombing of Iraq in December 1998 and was completed by the Kosovo war in 1999. I opposed both operations, partly out of a revulsion for militarism but mainly because the latter war was patently incompatible with the doctrine of national sovereignty. (Indeed, it was deliberately intended to be so.) I quickly came to the conclusion that Washington wanted to create a supra-national New World Order as dangerous for the freedom of nations as the equally supra-national super-structure being set up in Brussels.
 
I also had the opportunity, through my membership of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group (now defunct), to observe political developments throughout the post-Communist world from 1998 onwards. I saw how American political operatives, from the Left and the Right, worked to ensure the victory at elections of their favoured politicians, often at the expense of the popular will and often thereby bringing back to power old Communists or people involved in organised crime. Whether these operations were conducted by the left-wing National Democratic Institute or the right-wing International Republican Institute, they pursued the same policy of doing down patriotic politicians keen to protect their countries’ interests and instead brought to power those who were only too ready to sell them out, usually to American corporate interests. That they pursued the same policies is no surprise: both NDI and IRI and funded by the same government body, the National Endowment for Democracy, which must now count as one of the most professional “regime change” agencies in the history of the world.
 
It was of course Bill Clinton who fought the Kosovo war. But the same policy of aggressive foreign policy has been continued, and massively amplified, by George W. Bush. Where Clinton invoked the (bogus) claims of universal human rights for his wars, Bush invoked U.N. Security Council Resolutions (as his father had done in 1990) to justify his drive for absolute American hegemony in the name of an international system based on a complete confusion between international relations and policing – the “war on terror”. These plans have been amply laid out by politicians on the Left and Right in America, from Zbigniew Brzezinski to Paul Wolfowitz. But, just as each French president is worse than his predecessor, so the Clinton years now seen like a golden age.
 
Have I changed or has the world? To be sure, I have partly changed. Many of my political friends now are on the Left. My book on the Milosevic trial was published by a very left-wing publisher (Pluto Press, the former publishing house of the Socialist Workers’ Party) and the preface was written by the notoriously left-wing former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, who has embraced every anti-American cause from the Sandinistas to Saddam Hussein. Ten years ago, this would not have happened.
 
But the change in me is not that I have become left-wing. It is that I have ceased to think (I hope) in terms of taboos. Much of what passes for thought on the Right in Britain is in fact nothing other than the searching out of intellectual tram-lines on which to base one’s views. Opinions are severely hedged around with taboos. If someone is critical of America, for instance, he must be a Marxist. Having defended a number of deeply unpopular causes (especially that of the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic) I believe that I can say that my thinking is taboo-free and that I instead analyse matters not tribally but instead on the basis of the facts.
 
The facts, as I see them, is that the cause of conservatism has been decisively abandoned by the Right in Britain, America and elsewhere. The Right in those countries is simply in favour of big business and turbo-capitalism which, as Chesterton said, is simply a way of centralising power (and capital) on a par with Communism. In America, the link to the arms industry is particularly worrying, since of course the arms industry entertains a particularly close relationship with the state. The Right in America under George Bush has become statist both in the sense that it believes in ever greater defence spending, and also in the fact that it bases American national identity on the country’s military in a way reminiscent of Germany-Prussia in the late 19th and early 20th century.
 
Even more profoundly, I am convinced that the neo-conservatism which unites both Bush and Clinton (including Hillary) is a revolutionary creed which has nothing whatever to do with conservatism. I have argued this view at length in The Spectator and The American Conservative. To put it briefly, neo-conservatism is a profoundly revolutionary ideology which betrays all the characteristics I, as a Catholic and a conservative, hate most. It is militaristic and millenarian; it is moralistic and Manichean; it is revolutionary and ruthless. Not only does it have its roots in Trostkyism (Irving Kristol boasted in 1983 that he was still proud of having joined the Fourth International, two years after Trotsky founded it); it remains an overtly revolutionary force with all the potential for wreaking havoc which many other revolutionary movements in history have displayed. Until that ideology is destroyed, until the stranglehold which the military-industrial complex has over the political class in America, and until a counter-weight to American hegemony emerges which permits the re-emergence of a multi-polar world order and the balance of power, the world will never be at peace.

From the desk of John Laughland on Wed, 2008-04-09 15:40

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