[Marxism] Guiding imperialism's friendly mask

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jan 25 21:14:20 MST 2004

January 25, 2004
Guilding imperialism's friendly mask

By Stephen Gowans

Sweep away the mendacity of all the high-faulting pretexts for war, and 
still life goes on as it always has. Bush and Blair are liars, but so what? 
Anyone who had as few as two functioning neurons banging around their 
cranium could figure out that Saddam's cupboard was bare of weapons of mass 
destruction, and that the secular Baathists had no time for the religious 
fanatics of al-Qaeda. Besides which, who were the US and UK, two countries 
stuffed to the gunnels with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, which 
have never seen fit to be bound by international law, to say Iraq, or 
anyone else, couldn't have the weapons they themselves can't seem to get 
enough of? Is it that Washington and London and their imperialist rivals 
seek to preserve their monopoly over devastating weapons so they can push 
other countries around, without having to face stiff resistance -- that is, 
so they can continue to be imperialist powers, reaping imperialism's full 
rewards? North Korea's possible possession of nuclear weapons is hardly a 
threat to the world; it's a threat to US plans to make over the northern 
part of the Korean peninsula into a workshop for US capital. Since a new 
crop of sweatshops is hardly going to make my life, yours, of those of 
Koreans, any better, and is likely to make them poorer and more insecure, 
climbing aboard the "north Korea must irrevocably and verifiably dismantle 
its nuclear weapons program" bandwagon, hardly seems to be an act of 
enlightened self-interest.

Still, what those who doubted the Munchausens Bush and Blair never doubted 
was that Saddam was a monster.  Hence, the mild reaction to former Treasury 
Secretary Paul O'Neill's revelations about the Bush administration planning 
war on Iraq from its very first National Security Council meeting. Who 
could doubt the American population could get behind White House press 
secretary Scott McClellan's assessment? "The world," he remarked, "is safer 
and better because of the action that we took to remove a brutal regime 
from power in Iraq." It's easy to reconcile yourself to any war fought to 
drive a demon from power, even if the public justification is bullshit. 
American involvement in WWII, which was never inspired by the lofty ideas 
feel-good histories say it was, is nevertheless celebrated for its 
consequences. Maybe our motives weren't pure, it's conceded, but the Nazi 
reign of tyranny was ended, and the Holocaust was stopped. The ends, it 
seems, always have a habit of justifying the means, so long as the latter 

It's to be accepted as self-evident, and denied only at the risk of being 
excommunicated from the Church of the Sane, that Saddam's demise as leader 
of Iraq has made the world a safer place. On this, former White House 
speech writer David Frum and Pentagon adviser Richard Perle, and dissidents 
of the sort who complain bitterly that the New York Times won't publish 
their op-eds, see eye to eye.  "That he [Saddam] is evil," remarked a 
perspicacious critic of US foreign policy in the months preceding the 
invasion "is beyond question. The world would be a better place without 
him." The British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who's made sure he's followed 
the accustomed British policy of tagging along after the Americans, spoke 
almost the same words. And now McClellan.  Do they all get their scripts 
from the same writer? Or is the truth so abundantly evident that it's one 
of those things everyone can agree on, no matter what their politics?

There are, to be sure, plenty of leaders around the world who Americans, 
cabinet members and dissidents alike, can agree are evil, and so getting 
rid of the demons – in some fashion – can be considered a desirable goal, 
whose achievement will justify whatever means make the demon go away. 
Therein lies a crucial point about prominent dissidents: their dissent is 
partial. They don't dissent from the demonization of the target; indeed, 
they often take a lead role in heaping opprobrium on the goat du jour. 
"Love me, love me, love me," they demand. "I'm a liberal. I'm for all 
things nice and pleasant and good and against all things bad and nasty and 

Joanne Landy, an editor of the journal New Politics, is emblematic. She's 
one of the driving forces behind a petition that calls for a "democratic" 
US foreign policy, but amounts to nothing more than a public display of 
wrapping oneself in the flag of virtue. Landy and her co-signers are for 
democracy and freedom, and one guesses, for puppy dog tails, children's 
smiles, long walks along the beach, and that second cup of coffee on a lazy 
Sunday morning. She's also against nasty people and dictators and tyranny 
and grimy bathtub rings, and, well, just about anything bad, really.

full: http://www3.sympatico.ca/sr.gowans/guilding.html

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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