(This column was originally delivered as the keynote speech at a Chronicles’ conference, “Overcoming the Schism: European Divisions and U.S. Policy,” held in Chicago on May 8.)
You would never guess that the Cold War is over. Almost all commentators on foreign policy start off their speeches or articles by performing an obligatory knee bend to the “end of the Cold War” and then continue to talk about our foreign policy as though the Cold War were still going on. They still chatter about “America’s global responsibilities”; they still worry about the scale of U.S. military defenses; they still dither and dabble in world affairs, perhaps even more recklessly than in the 1950’s and 60’s.
We still dole out immense sums of money in foreign aid to various client states; we still maintain the Cold War alliances with Asian and Latin American states that were set up as a global defense system, and in NATO we have even expanded the alliance to undertake an undefined “new mission.” Occasionally, we stop to realize that our major adversary in the Cold War no longer exists, but we have not even begun to think about, let alone act upon, the vast implications of the Soviet collapse. Most of all, we still conduct our foreign policy on the unquestioned assumption that the United States faces a serious threat to its vital interests and national security, even though no one seems to be able to tell us what that threat is. Indeed, American foreign policy in the post-Cold War period could perhaps be defined as a “search for a new enemy,” since only the existence of an enemy could justify the continuation of the basic framework of Cold War foreign policy.
In fact, the end of the Cold War represents a new era in American foreign policy of the kind that we have not seen since 1914. After that year, our foreign policy was exclusively defined by the need to defend the United States against a real or perceived enemy—the Kaiser, the Axis, or the Kremlin. As a result, most of us have simply lost the capacity’ to think about foreign policy in the absence of an enemy, and, to paraphrase what Voltaire said of God, if an enemy does not exist, it would be necessary to invent one. Moreover, foreign policy professionals possess a powerful vested interest in identifying an enemy and telling us how we ought to defeat or contain him. If they do not get paid for doing that, then they have no other function, and many of my colleagues in Cold War, Inc., have had to undertake some fancy footwork to adjust their professional lives to a Cold War-less world.
There have been several candidates for the new enemy—Saddam Hussein, Somalia’s late warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid, and more recently various Balkan or Arab leaders who have popped up on the screen much like the cut-outs of 1930’s gangsters that the FBI still uses for target practice at its training academy. Clearly, the basic personality of the enemy is always Hitler, and he always exhibits the same demonic cruelty, the same maniacal aggressiveness, and the same psychotic ambitions as Der Führer.
But sometimes today the enemy is cast not as a personality but as a force—Islamic fundamentalism or transnational crime, which is usually lumped together with international terrorism, and all of which are then identified with domestic white separatists and militia groups. Islamic fundamentalism seemed for a while to be a very credible enemy, especially after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, but it soon faded after the Oklahoma City bombing. Transnational organized crime is perhaps a more plausible enemy, although it too lacks a conveniently defined face. Drug smuggling, arms smuggling, and people who smoke cigarettes on international air flights seem to compete for the role of the foe against whom our military, political, economic, and intelligence resources must be mobilized. A few years ago, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry explicitly identified transnational crime as the new enemy. “The overall international organized crime threat to our interests is more serious than we had assumed,” Senator Kerry trembled. “Organized crime is the new communism, the new monolithic threat.” All that is lacking is a large photograph of the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu.
Libertarians who refused to see an enemy in the Soviet Union argued that an enemy was invented for the purpose of justifying the vast enlargement of the federal state in the wake of World War II and for the perpetuation of the state machinery established during the earlier conflict. But even if their premise, that the Soviets were really not an enemy, is wrong, their conclusion contains a great deal of truth. The recognition by the American foreign policy establishment in the 1940’s that the Soviets were a threat (as belated as it was and as blinded as the establishment had been by its reliance on the counsel of outright traitors like Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and Lauchlin Curry) was followed by a resolution to fight communism in the same way as New Deal liberals had tried to fight domestic social problems. In announcing the Truman Doctrine in 1947, Truman claimed that “The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by miser}’ and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died,” and in l965 Lyndon Johnson boasted of his plans to construct what he called “the TVA on the Mekong,” presumably to liberate the Vietnamese peasants from communism in the same way that the TVA was supposed to liberate Tennessee peasants from bootlegging and snakecharming. The strategy by which Cold War liberals sought to fight communism, then, was simply an extension of their strategy for domestic social reform, and it promised much the same rewards for the bureaucratic and managerial elites that were to supervise it.
The insight of James Burnham, in his trilogy on communism in the 1940’s, that communism simply used “bad social conditions” to advance its own power was missed by those establishment leaders who were otherwise influenced by Burnham. They exploited his premise that the Soviets were engaged in a “struggle for the world” to construct and perpetuate a foreign policy apparatus that was committed to preserving and enhancing its own bureaucratic leverage and to making certain that the struggle for the world would last forever, or at least until they started receiving their own pensions from the federal government. In the 1990’s, conservatives crow about our “victory in the Cold War,” but virtually nothing we did during the Cold War deserves the name of victory. We armed our enemies with trade deals and grain deals even as we sent American troops to fight against the war machine that American capitalism helped build. We betrayed ally after ally to communism or its surrogates—in Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Africa, and Southeast Asia; we refused to extirpate the spies and traitors who infested the federal government and damned the characters of patriots and heroes like Whittaker Chambers and Louis Budenz who risked their careers and even their lives to expose the treason, and politicians in both parties used “Great Power Diplomacy” and arms treaties that could not be verified to advance their own careers.
There was a real enemy in the Soviet Union and the communism it espoused, but we never did much to win victory over it, and even in the Reagan era, I can tell you, as one who worked on foreign policy issues in the U.S. Senate, neither I nor any of my colleagues believed that “we” were winning the Cold War or defeating communism. Having won a victory we did not deserve, we now devote ourselves to continuing to fight the war we regret is over, hi the past, I have described our recent policies of foreign interventionism as a form of imperialism. It is that, but it is also something different, namely globalism.
Under imperialism, one nation or political unit conquers other political units; while under globalism, there is a transcendence of the political unit itself We see this today in the deliberate attack upon national sovereignty, in NAFTA, the WTO, and the European Union; and in the efforts at moving the United Nations toward a world government, replicating virtually every function of national government—proposals have been made for a standing U.N. army, for a new international currency, for direct U.N. taxation, and for a permanent U.N. criminal court to try “human rights” violations; and various U.N. covenants seek to regulate domestic subnational laws and policies on issues such as the treatment of women and children, regulation of the environment, civil and political rights, the death penalty, and, most recently, global gun control.
The driving force behind globalism is not the ruling class of any distinct nation but rather a new riding class that is transnational in its scope and interests, an elite that has effectively disengaged itself from the underlying institutions and cultures that define nationality, so that today a corporate executive in New York has more in common with his counterpart in Tokyo or Kiev than he does with his co-national in Kansas or Wisconsin. Pat Buchanan’s new book, The Great Betrayal, offers quotation after quotation from American corporate leaders who disavow the interests of their own country and explicitly identify themselves and their companies as non-American. We see the results of this disengagement in the recent controversy over importing foreign skilled workers. There are hundreds and perhaps thousands of Americans who are perfectly well qualified to work as computer engineers but who cannot get jobs in the computer industry because the companies, run by deracinated and avaricious geeks, insist on hiring Third World workers at lower salaries.
And of course we see the results of globalism in uncontrolled immigration, which occurs not just because agribusiness demands cheap labor: so does the meat packing industry in the Midwest; so does the poultry industry in the South; and so does almost every other organized institution in American life—labor unions, eager to refill their depleted ranks with foreign workers; churches, desperate to attract new congregations after their ministers have driven away their old ones with their bloodless sermons and their theology without thunder; and, most of all, the vast complex of government, education, social work, and therapy that perpetually seeks a new underclass on which to work its voodoo.
Of course, globalism makes use of imperialism and of the underlying nations that it seeks to erode and transcend, just as a nest of termites makes use of a house. The corporations that boast of being transnational rather than American could not exist without the American economy, American workers, American consumers, and the American culture and legal system that created them in the first place. The United Nations and similar transnational organizations could not exist without the funds supplied by American taxpayers. The Glorious Multicultural America that twinkles in the mind’s eye of the advocates of open borders and the abolition of national boundaries could not exist without the old, monocultural America, based on its British and European inheritances and populations. Globalism, just as much as the “struggle for the world” against communism, is an illusion, and it can become a reality only when it has destroyed the reality of nation, race, and culture on which it rests.
But if globalism cannot easily become a reality, that does not mean that it cannot triumph by the very destruction of the house on which it feeds. The New World Order is more than just a new configuration of the post-Cold War world. It involves a domestic transformation just as much as it does an international one, and while its international agenda may stumble and falter on the intractable rocks of an American population that distrusts the United Nations and the promises of perpetual peace won through perpetual war, its domestic agenda proceeds apace. The transformation of American civilization through immigration, the permeation of our schools and universities by multiculturalism, and the ever advancing power of the federal government over its citizens is integral to building the globalist illusion, and it is a transformation that both political parties, the Stupid Party and the Evil Party, and more broadly, both the right and the left, have advanced.
The real conflict today is not between right and left, capitalist and socialist, and certainly not between nation and nation, but between nationalist and globalist. There are of course many forms and faces of that conflict, because the globalist agenda contains so many different facets, but it is no less a struggle for the world than the earlier struggle against communism was. In this new struggle, we cannot depend on our ruling elites in government or the economy or the culture to fight for us, any more than we could depend on their fighting communism; indeed, we can depend on them fighting against us, but we will have to fight it ourselves. If it’s a new enemy we’re looking for, we don’t have to go very far, and certainly not to the Balkans or Baghdad. The enemy is here, and it is no less an enemy—of freedom, of nationality, of our whole way of life—than the communists ever were. Once Americans awaken to the reality of its existence and the threat it represents, as many Europeans are awakening now, we should be able to defeat it far more effectively than we ever defeated our earlier foe.
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