Making politicians and media accountable to ordinary citizens since 2000.

Home | Unconservative Listening | Links | Contribute | About

Join the Mailing List | Contact Caro

4/4/04


 

A FAMILIAR
FOREIGN POLICY

By David Podvin

The conquest of defenseless nations is not an idea original to George W. Bush, nor did he create the concept of replacing popularly elected governments with puppet regimes. In crafting foreign policy, the totalitarian Texan has plagiarized heavily from his ideological role models – the vicious barbarians who ran the Soviet Union.

Bush does not use communist rhetoric or symbolism, but he has embraced the imperialist philosophy of the USSR. In addition to sharing the Soviet leadership’s sneering disregard for international law, he has adopted the Stalinist vision of remaking the world in his own image through intimidation and the use of violence. The Bush Doctrine explicitly declares that the United States reserves the right to use any force it deems necessary to prevent another nation from becoming a military rival, a pronouncement that enlarges the concept of the Warsaw Pact to include every country on Earth.

The Soviets sacked smaller nations and killed their people and stole their resources in the name of the proletariat. Bush sacks smaller nations and kills their people and steals their resources in the name of peace. The commissars marketed their butchery as “promoting international socialism” while Bush stains the ground red in the name of  “democratizing the world”. For all the self-serving verbiage, the foreign policy of the USSR ultimately existed to serve the interests of the oligarchy that ran the country for its own benefit, and the same is true of the Bush foreign policy.

When the Soviets crushed the democratic uprisings in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, their ostensible reason was to maintain order and save the public from the subversives who sought to create chaos. This is also the rationale given by the Bush administration for the recent overthrow of the democratically elected government in Haiti. In reality, each case featured a small country forfeiting national sovereignty by seeking to empower its own people over the objections of the repressive tyrant who ruled the neighboring superpower.

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan vowing to destroy the terrorist groups infesting that hapless nation. The Red Army killed countless civilians while seizing control of the capital city of Kabul, but was unable to master the anarchy that reigned in the countryside. Bush employed exactly the same reasoning to try exactly the same thing and achieved exactly the same result.

The Soviets held suspects without charging them with crimes and tortured them in gulags. Bush holds suspects without charging them with crimes and tortures them in Guantanamo. The Soviet leaders, who possessed the arrogance that accompanies gaining office in sham elections, went out of their way to express their disdain for world opinion. Bush, who possesses the arrogance that accompanies gaining office in a sham election, goes out of his way to express his disdain for all opinions other than his own.

There is one significant difference between the foreign policies of the USSR and Bush: when dealing in international affairs, the Soviets openly repudiated the theology of Jesus Christ. Conversely, Bush extols the gospel while perverting it to justify savage attacks on his helpless victims.

By opting for a Bolshevik foreign policy that emphasizes coercion instead of persuasion, Bush has disgraced our nation. He has rejected the best traditions of the United States in dealing with other countries. Gone is the advocacy of human rights, the encouragement of democracy, and the sharing of food and medicine and technological expertise designed to improve the lives of our less fortunate neighbors around the world. These have been the actions America has taken at those times when we have decided that being the strongest nation obligates us to be the most generous.

Each president must eventually confront the question of whether America should chart the difficult course of attempting to live up to our stated ideals or take the easier path of exerting power over weaker countries. Bill Clinton chose the former option, and as a result the prestige of the United States skyrocketed during his presidency. America mediated disputes between foreign adversaries, helped to cultivate new democracies, and was a participant in world affairs rather than a bully. When Clinton left office, the US was trusted by our allies and unscathed by our enemies.

Bush has also chosen a foreign policy approach, and he has made the wrong choice. He has maintained the oratory of peace and freedom, but only to act as camouflage for war and repression. He has changed America’s role from mediator to dictator. Just as the Soviets ruled their sphere of influence with an iron fist, Bush lays down the law to the whole world. He is emulating the actions of evil people, and in doing so has made himself morally indistinguishable from them.

The Bush technique of winning through deception is proving to be as counterproductive as it is immoral. Even his accomplices in the “Coalition Of The Willing” no longer trust him, as the leader of Poland recently made clear when he complained that Bush had “taken us for a ride” by lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The result is that the war on terror, which should be a unified effort on the part of civilized nations, has essentially become a one-man show designed to achieve domestic political advantage.

The increasing isolation of America has exhilarated conservatives. They revel in the world’s hostile reaction to Bush’s abusive tactics – right wingers brandish the alienation of our allies as a badge of honor. To them, the almost universal condemnations of Bush merely verify that humanity is morally adrift and desperately in need of some good old-fashioned Republican tough love.

Right wing columnist Charles Krauthammer recently said that anger in Europe towards the Bush foreign policy is the hatred of decadent teenagers towards their stern yet decent father who sets essential moral boundaries for unformed minds. Bill Bennett says Americans should consider being reviled by amoral foreigners as the Good Housekeeping Seal Of Approval.

But Europe does not hate the United States, and Americans are not reviled worldwide. Martin Luther King is revered, as is John Kennedy. Clinton is received as an honored guest wherever he goes, and the same is true of Jimmy Carter. Most of the world loves Americans - it is American conservatives who are despised. Bush is hated, just as Ronald Reagan was hated, and for the same reason that Khrushchev and Brezhnev were hated: each of these depraved men carried out policies of pummeling weaker countries and deliberately murdering civilians.

The world understands that Clinton used the might of the United States to engender a democracy in Haiti, and then Bush used the might of the United States to destroy it. From the conservative perspective, Clinton demonstrated contemptible weakness in granting freedom to the peasants, while Bush manifested steely resolve in confiscating that freedom. When Yuri Andropov ran the KGB, he declared that it is the natural order of things for the strong to crush the weak.

Like the erstwhile leaders of the politburo, American conservatives like to transform international scenarios into analogies with the Third Reich. The Soviets constantly accused those who disagreed with them of being Hitlerian. American right wingers enthusiastically employ this tactic; any foreign leader targeted by a Republican president is immediately pronounced to be the second coming of Adolf Hitler, and anyone who fails to accept the analogy is automatically the reincarnation of Neville Chamberlain.

To conservatives, Saddam Hussein was Hitler - albeit minus the mighty military/industrial complex without which Hitler would not have been Hitler - and everyone who opposed stealing Iraq’s oil was guilty of appeasement. Left unsaid is that during World War II, it was Hitler himself who drew up a plan to steal the very same Iraqi oil that Bush has now taken, and it was the American military that stopped him from committing such a morally indefensible theft.

Conservative politics are replete with irony.

The great irony of the Soviet Union was that the more it imposed its will upon other countries, the weaker it became. And so it is with America under George W. Bush. After three years of kicking ass and taking names, the United States has lost ground; terrorism is flourishing as American influence is waning. Bush betrayed the confidence of our allies and squandered the goodwill that was extended by virtually every country following 9/11, so the US now has less diplomatic leverage than at any time in recent history. Half of the American people may buy into Bush’s creative use of language, but most foreigners side with the half who don’t: carpet bombing civilian population centers in Afghanistan and Iraq is murder, even when it is done in the name of human rights.

Republicans point with pride to the fact that Saddam Hussein is gone, as are his nonexistent weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent though imaginary threat to this country. Of course, Hussein would have been gone two decades earlier if not for the financial support of his good buddy Reagan, who also supported the apartheid regime in South Africa and the genocidal dictator in Guatemala and any other mass murderer who was shrewd enough to call himself anti-communist. At the same time, the Soviets were supporting any bloodthirsty maniac who called himself anti-capitalist.

Conservatives and communists have always been two sides of the same counterfeit coin: to disagree with either is to be an enemy of the state who must be punished. Dissent is indistinguishable from treason because, as both Bush and Stalin are on record as having said, “You’re either for us or against us.” Such egocentricity does not allow for nuance or even indecision – the ultimatum is to toe the line or suffer the consequences. This is the way you treat your allies when you have no use for allies. It is the way you treat your citizens when you have no use for them, either.

Thankfully, the thugs who ran the illegitimate Soviet regime and terrorized the world are now out of power. Those reprobates made the planet a much more painful place than it had it to be, and humanity is fortunate that the leaders of the USSR have been consigned to the ashbin of history. This election year offers the ideal opportunity to provide their devoted disciple in the White House with the same well-deserved fate.

More David Podvin

Podvin, the Series

 


Last changed: December 13, 2009