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Monday, November 11, 2002


WBW reader "M. B." sends a f**king of NRO yahoo Victor Davis Hanson:

Glenn Reynolds, the quintessence of fair and balanced objectivity, surely knows what type of piece to offer his loyal readers. We can expect him to recommend essays meticulously argued and with a command of the available evidence that would make nasty old Robert Fisk blush in envy, right? Let’s have a look see at what he is comfortable directing the genius bloodblogger fraternity towards. In this example, we will examine Victor Davis Hanson’s The End of An Era from National Review Online:

“We are witnessing a fascinating period in American history — not the resurgence, as proclaimed, but the decline of an entire culture of dissident leftists.”

One wonders how Hanson knows this. It is likely he has held the same grim opinion of this group for some time, thus current feelings can’t be based on recent disillusionment. Perhaps this “decline” is apparent by the way Gore Vidal has become so unpopular at the National Review or how the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has been noticeably absent the influence of Howard Zinn in the last few months. Whatever measures are used to determine this “decline,” Mr. Hanson doesn’t let on. He surely must not believe that the “free market” is any indication because the available data refutes his findings. Take, for example, the fact that Michael Moore’s book “Stupid White Men” spent months on the New York Times bestseller list or the success of his latest movie, which has a per-screen gross comparable to big Hollywood films. Noam Chomsky’s book 9-11 has been his most successful to date, appearing on bestseller lists and getting rare media coverage on CNN, FOX, USA Today and other places. Of course, there are things more important than the “free market” and I am glad to see that there are people at the National Review who agree.

“The last year has revealed all their old shibboleths for what they were: lies and half-truths.”

As opposed to this piece, which we can predict will be a fair account of Hanson’s political antipodes.

“Examine, for example, some of the positions voiced at recent demonstrations — and decide whether there was any morality or consistency to them other than anti-Americanism?" No blood for oil" implies that the United States is attacking Iraq to ensure a low price for petroleum — a plot purportedly to allow SUV-driving soccer moms to buzz around at the world's expense.”

Someone so obviously concerned with lies and half truths should have taken the time to determine the views of the people he is supposedly “examining” instead of merely guessing at them. The argument advanced by the anti-war, anti-corporate globalization crowd is easy enough to find and had Hanson troubled himself, he would have found that the “No Blood for Oil” chant employed at peace marches (numbering in the hundreds of thousands world wide and growing, another sure sign of decline of the “Anti-American Left”) is actually about control of the SUPPLY of Iraqi petroleum. Getting “a low price” is exactly the opposite of what the future suppliers (those in the US and its allies who will profit from controlling the second largest oil reserves on earth) want as they will raise the price to either whatever the market will bear or to whatever the corporate welfare programs known as the “Washington Consensus” will allow.

“But such a platitude is full of logistical inconsistencies rarely discussed. The argument instead can be made that a fascistic Iraq currently pumps far less than its natural capacity or its national interests would otherwise demand — perhaps as much as a million-barrel shortfall. And such an artificially created dearth helps the price-gouging Russians and the Gulf States by reducing world supplies at the expense of billions well outside the borders of the United States.”

Logically inconsistent if Hanson’s premise holds - I have just shown that it doesn’t.

“A consensual government in Iraq would not distort the market, but would restore its output to be in line with what the people of Iraq would desire.”

By “the people of Iraq” Hanson means their new rulers, hand picked by oil men Bush and Cheney. Contrast this prediction of the nature of a post-Saddam regime with the history of the type of people and governments the US has supported since WWII. Or consider what was written in the September 30 edition of Ha’aretz :

"My dear Colette, don't worry," said Tom Lantos, the California congressman,

as he tried to calm MK Colette Avital of the Labor Party, who was visiting

Capitol Hill last week as part of a delegation of the Peace Coalition. "You

won't have any problem with Saddam," the Jewish congressman continued.

"We'll be rid of the bastard soon enough. And in his place we'll install a

pro-Western dictator, who will be good for us and for you."

Hanson is clearly out of touch with reality.

“If anything, other oil producers prefer the present contrived and induced shortages. And liberation would allow oil revenue to be shared by the people, not diverted to the palaces, anthrax labs, or Swiss bank accounts of a tribal elite.”

Of course. Just ask the people of Central and South America or any other Third World country under the rubric of the IMF and World Bank how much their natural resources have paid off for them and how fair their US approved rulers have been. Mr. Hanson leaves out that a good portion of “the people’s revenue” will be “diverted” to palaces in gated communities in the United States, to anthrax labs like USAMRID, and to accounts in the Cayman Islands belonging to the rich elite of this country.

“So a more apt protest slogan should be "No fascism for rigged oil prices" or "Oil for the people who really own it."

Maybe Mr. Hanson can convince Jonah Goldberg to organize a march to try out their pithy new slogans.

“The dream of 1960s radicals was supposedly that someday the United States might use its vast cultural influence and military power to be on the "right side of history." That meant — instead of Pavlovian opposition to idealistic socialists and occasional Communists in preference for odious figures like Pinochet, Somoza, or Franco — we would try to topple just those regimes and implant democracies in their place.”

Obviously their dream was to have a crisis of faith in the late ‘70’s and get a high paying job in the right wing think tank machine at the peak of Reagan’s popularity, funded by the foundations of Olin and Bradley. I’m not sure who favored military aggression in the cases Hanson cites, I believe the consensus was that the US should simply stop supplying them with arms, money and training, and, oh yeah, not assassinate their rivals.

“Few then lectured that the Nicaraguans should be left to handle their own dictators or that we had no right to tell the Spanish what to do with Franco. Instead, support for revolutionary movements was voiced and action demanded. Well, with the end of the Cold War, those days of hope have at last arrived. Noriega, Milosevic, and Mullah Omar not only were fascistic and bloodthirsty, but they are also all gone thanks to the United States military. Rather than seeing protestors chanting to ignore Saddam Hussein, I would have expected that the refrain would be "Solidarity with the brave Iraqi people in their brave struggles against a fascist mass murderer."

I’ve got a better one. How about something along the lines of, “Stop arming, funding, and training monsters like Noriega, Hussein, and Bin Laden when it is politically expedient so that they don’t kill lots of innocent people and we have to stop them years later because they start killing us, or because it’s politically expedient!” Perhaps too cumbersome.

“The mantras of the 1960s and 1970s were "coalition governments" and "free elections." The United States was supposed to predicate its support on representation of all spectra of views under democratic auspices, i.e., anything other that what had emerged for a time in Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Brazil, Greece, or Argentina. Such right-wing autocracies were corrupt, authoritarian, and murderous. In other words, like the present Palestinian Authority, they brooked no opposition, lynched or shot dissidents with or without show trials, and embezzled foreign aid. Yet today a democratic Israel — with a vociferous press, an antiwar movement, a plentitude of parties, regular elections, and a civilian-controlled military — is as demonized as Mr. Arafat is praised by Western intellectuals. Do we see protest signs that say "Support the democratic peoples of Israel in their struggle against sexist, homophobic, and fundamentalist reactionaries"?”

Which Western intellectuals praised Mr. Arafat? Demanding that the recipient of the majority of our foreign aid adhere to the Geneva Conventions and abide by scores of UN resolutions is not the same as praising the corrupt puppet regime cynically established to avoid real and just settlement. I’ve got another slogan: “Israel should not have funded Hamas in order to make trouble among the secular Palestinian leadership with whom they did not want to make a deal!”

“If I could summarize the antiwar movement's traditional view of the military, it ran something like this: Anyone who came of age during the draft and combat abroad had a constitutional duty not to serve the imperialist war aims of the United States, especially in Vietnam. The military were slandered as innately fascistic and its officers not to be trusted — veterans who were said to have the blood of innocent civilians on their hands. Only the brake of civilians — intellectual and principled — could save us from a dangerous militarism. Or so it went on the campuses.”

Of course he leaves out that many if not most of the antiwar movement were very sympathetic to the soldiers sent to die in a disgusting war of US aggression, many of whom were poor and minority and had few choices and many of whom were our sons and brothers and uncles and friends.

“Now, however, those in their mid and late 50s in government who did not go to Vietnam are slurred as "chicken hawks" in the manner that those same accusers once tarred veterans as "baby killers." That the top brass is wary of going into Iraq is suddenly proof that such military experts, not their civilian overseers, should be heeded as wise and reasonable. Are there petitions, then, that suggest that serving in the ground war in Vietnam between 1965 and 1972 was an act of patriotism, coupled with proclamations that military minds are in general more responsible to gauge the morality of war? If so, the protesters in D.C. should have placards proclaiming, "Listen to our brave generals and rally behind our Vietnam vets." And since dissidents also apparently think that in this war it is safer to be in the fleet than in the path of terrorist bombers, their placards should read: "Chicken-hawks: Leave your sanctuary in the Pentagon and safe high-rises of New York and get into harm's way on a submarine."

If Hanson wants to start a petition suggesting that the US invasion of South Vietnam in order to prevent the unifying elections called for in the 1954 Geneva Accords and the resulting slaughter of 3 million souls in Indochina (and 58,000 of our aforementioned sons, brothers, uncles, and friends) was an act of patriotism, be my guest. Let us not forget that military brass always follow the demands of their “civilian overseers” and that as brutal as General Westmoreland was, his guilt is less than that shared by Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and their staff. The reason people opposed to the war cite the “wary” opinions of the “top brass” is because it demonstrates just how much more extreme the “civilian overseers” must be that the normally hawkish military leaders feel it necessary to question their superiors.

“After the murderous aftermath of 1975 in Southeast Asia — boat people, summary executions, the piled skulls of the killing fields, reeducation camps, over a million refugees in the United States — the antiwar Left claimed that its efforts were aimed only at stopping the United States from fighting in Asia and that it had been led astray by the phony rhetoric of the Viet Cong. Thus the myth arose that radical dissidents were more pacifist than anti-American. Suspicions that many favored the eventual Communist victory as part of a general hatred of things America were discounted as absurd, if not libelous. But their stance against the present war with fascists has finally caught up to them, and revealed a large number for what they really are: deductive anti-Americanists. There are various conventional explanations for this week's election results; but unmentioned has been the Democrats' failure to condemn loudly and publicly the ravings of the lunatic Left.”

How does Hanson determine the difference between an “ant-Americanist” and a critic of the government? Again, no standards are given. We can guess that Hanson would agree that it is legitimate to criticize AFDC and Social Security but not corporate welfare or sponsorship of genocide in East Timor. Clearly one who supports poor working Americans is anti-American and one who defends a war that killed 58,000 Americans is pro-American. Stunning logic. By the way, what percentage of Democrats at the national level have had anything to do with the so called anti-Americanists in any election?

“The post-9/11 animus from a Norman Mailer (the Twin Towers were like ugly buck teeth), Noam Chomsky (America planned to kill "millions" in Afghanistan), or Michael Moore (there were few Bush voters at the World Trade Center) — followed by gleeful predictions by others of U.S. failure against the Taliban — is now come to logical fruition over the toppling of the odious Saddam Hussein.”

Why, except for the fact that these men are not Islamic fundamentalists and have never killed anyone in an act of terrorism, they could be in Al Qaida!

“And what one has to conclude from the present venom is that anti-Americanism is neither logical nor empirical.”

Neither is Hanson’s essay, approved by Commander Reynolds with his characteristic eloquence: “Yep.”

“Indeed, it is a fundamentalist secular religion, not a reasoned stance, one entirely inconsistent and unpredictable in its choice of friends and foes — except for one constant: Whatever America does, it hates. We are learning that resistance never really entailed opposition to fascism at all, much less the need for intervention to support democracy, but was simply a strange desire to vent displeasure with our own culture. That so many of these ideological teenagers mad at their opulent and indulgent parents are affluent suburbanites suggests the deleterious effects of leisure and wealth; that so many enjoy the appurtenances of nice cars, houses, and travel denotes abject hypocrisy; that so many mindlessly repeat cant and fad reflects the power of belonging to a clique that promises status by being more "sophisticated" and "subtle" than ordinary Americans; that so many demand utopian perfection reminds us that their god Reason is an unforgiving totem; that so many are shrill and angry suggests that they seek global causes to assuage personal unhappiness and anger at a system that has not met their own high demands upon it.”

Not just our “high demands” but the obligations of our Constitution and the international treaties we have signed such as the UN Charter or the Geneva Conventions or the 1972 Chemical Weapons treaty and so on and so forth. The “need for intervention to support democracy” was not supported by the group in question, but was the official view of the political establishment about which people like Noam Chomsky have been untiring skeptics. It is hard to tell if Hanson (and his supporters in the Blogosphere) is just clumsy or he is his he really this fraudulent.

“So we have at last arrived at Cloudcuckooland: A hierarchal United States military is more tolerant of liberals in its ranks than liberal universities are of their critics on campus. Republicans support dangerous interventions abroad to remove dictators and free oppressed peoples, as leftist dissidents agitate for hands-off mass murderers and medieval theocrats. A democratic Israel is slandered as imperialistic and fascistic while an authoritarian Palestinian regime is given a pass for theft, murder, and torture. And liberals, women, and homosexuals are saved in Afghanistan thanks to the work of Air Force pilots and special forces, as reactionary fundamentalists and thugs seek to hold onto their autocracy in part by finding solace with anti-American leftists. Who would have ever thought that democratic Iraqis would seek our military's help, while agents of Saddam Hussein would line up to find solidarity with those now marching? Face it: Slobodan Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Yasser Arafat, and Saddam Hussein — not the ghosts of the thousands of their innocent dead — all prefer Ramsey Clark to George Bush. We are seeing nothing less than quite literally the end of an era — witnessed by the intellectual suicide of an entire generation, who in their last gasps are proving they have been not very moral people all along.”

Sure, the military operation in Afghanistan was an act done to promote feminism. You have to admire the willingness to be so embarrassingly mendacious in an effort to interpret the mid term election results (three whole Senate seats) as a rejection of the mostly ignored community of the dissident Left. Since Hanson is so factually wrong on so many things, it is reasonable to conclude that people who agree with him share the same dubious credibility. Apparently, if you wrap yourself in the flag, you needn’t have conclusions that follow from factual premises. Of flags, Arundhati Roy writes:

“Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people’s brains and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.”

True Enough. It is worth repeating that this whole exercise turns on whether or not one agrees with what Hanson means by “anti-American.” For if , as I suspect, this term is meant to smear formidable critics of US foreign policy and corporate globalization instead of actually engaging them in debate, then we can discard it in the pile of other useless Orwellianisms such as “peace process” or “free market.” Here is a test to determine the honesty and credibility of people who use this term: how many times do they use it to describe people on the right? Do they describe Murry Rothbard in such a way? Or Pat Buchanan? Why is it that “anti-American” is only used to describe the Left? Unfortunately, obvious propaganda of the type written by Hanson works on some level, if only to persuade the choir in the sewers of the blogosphere.

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