Reihan Salam still wants your children to die for his dreams of empire. While he acknowledges that the Iraq War’s “benefits outweighed the enormous costs”, he’s not convinced we shouldn’t try again. In fact, he claims it is essential for world peace that America continue to put its boot on the throat of the world.
The failure of aggressive war in Iraq to make America safer by removing weapons of mass destruction (because they weren’t there) and the hundreds of thousands of dead men, women, and children as a result of that war has not put Salam off his quest to maintain Pax Americana.
Why do I still believe that the U.S. should maintain an overwhelming military edge over all potential rivals, and that we as a country ought to be willing to use our military power in defense of our ideals as well as our interests narrowly defined? There are two reasons: The first is that American strength is the linchpin of a peaceful, economically integrating world; and the second is that we know what it looks like when America embraces amoral realpolitik, and it’s not pretty.
Two genuinely ridiculous assertions one could only reasonably make if one were trapped inside a Neocon cave and unaware of reality.
The first assertion, that American strength underwrites a “peaceful, economically integrating world” requires a fair amount of cognitive dissonance. That America has been waging a global war with unlimited drone strikes, a well financed special operations hit squad with no boundaries, and major land armies in two countries for much of the last decade has apparently escaped Salam’s notice. So has, evidently, the lack of peace/unrest throughout the Middle East at large. So peace for whom?
“Economically integrating” is also a pretty revealing phrase. Salam seems to be actually celebrating that a smaller and smaller group of transnational elites owns more and more of the world economy. Is the purpose of the American military to guard Davos meetings? Few countries have been more economically and spiritually damaged by allowing corporations to exploit outsourcing than America. Cheap goods at Walmart in exchange for shattering our manufacturing base may be a sanguine trade-off to Salam, but the overwhelming majority of Americans are not happy with what the Neoliberal free trade agenda has wrought. President Obama even campaigned successfully on revisiting NAFTA to help keep more jobs in America (note I said “campaigned.”). An integrating economy for whom?
The second assertion is equally problematic. Salam condemns “realpolitik” as the alternative to Neoconservatism, which is to say that he reduces the debate over US power and foreign policy to a squabble among imperialists with some siding with the democracy by gunfire crowd like Bush and Cheney and others fitting into the realist school of power politics a la Nixon and Kissinger (his examples). Which is a strange way to frame the discussion on a number of levels.