The same cabal of warmongering pundits, foreign policy specialists and government officials, year after year, debacle after debacle, smugly dodge responsibility for the military fiascos they orchestrate. They are protean, shifting adroitly with the political winds, moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back again, mutating from cold warriors to neocons to liberal interventionists. Pseudo-intellectuals, they exude a cloying Ivy League snobbery as they sell perpetual fear, perpetual war and a racist worldview, where the lesser breeds of the earth only understand violence.
They are pimps of war, puppets of the Pentagon, a state within a state, and the defense contractors who lavishly fund their think tanks — Project for the New American Century, American Enterprise Institute, Foreign Policy Initiative, Institute for the Study of War, the Atlantic Council and the Brookings Institution. Like some mutant strain of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they cannot be vanquished. It does not matter how wrong they are, how absurd their theories, how many times they lie or denigrate other cultures and societies as uncivilized or how many murderous military interventions go bad. They are immovable props, the parasitic mandarins of power vomited up in the dying days of any empire, including ours, leaping from one self-defeating catastrophe to the next.
I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent reporting on the suffering, misery and murderous rampages these shills for war engineered and funded. My first encounter with them was in Central America. Elliot Abrams — convicted of providing misleading testimony to Congress on the Iran-Contra Affair and later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush so he could return to government to sell us the Iraq war — and Robert Kagan, director of the State Department’s public diplomacy office for Latin America — were propagandists for the brutal military regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as the rapists and homicidal thugs who made up the rogue Contra forces fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, which they illegally funded. Their job was to discredit our reporting.
They, and their coterie of fellow war lovers, went on to push for the expansion of NATO in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, violating an agreement not to extend NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany and recklessly antagonizing Russia. They were and are cheerleaders for the apartheid state of Israel, justifying its war crimes against Palestinians and myopically conflating Israel’s interests with our own. They advocated for air strikes in Serbia, calling for the U.S. to “take out” Slobodan Milosevic. They were the authors of the policy to invade Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Robert Kagan and William Kristol, with their typical cluelessness, wrote in April 2002 that “the road that leads to real security and peace” is “the road that runs through Baghdad.”
We saw how that worked out. That road led to the dissolution of Iraq, the destruction of its civilian infrastructure, including the obliteration of 18 of 20 electricity-generating plants and nearly all the water-pumping and sanitation systems during a 43-day period when 90,000 tons of bombs were rained down on the country, the rise of radical jihadist groups throughout the region, and failed states. The war in Iraq, along with the humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, shredded the illusion of U.S. military and global hegemony. It also inflicted on Iraqis, who had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11, the widespread killing of civilians, the torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners, and the ascendancy of Iran as the preeminent power in the region. They continue to call for a war with Iran, with Fred Kagan stating that “there is nothing we can do short of attacking to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons.” They pushed for the overthrow of President Nicolás Maduro, after trying to do the same to Hugo Chávez, in Venezuela. They have targeted Daniel Ortega, their old nemesis in Nicaragua.
They embrace a purblind nationalism that prohibits them from seeing the world from any perspective other than their own. They know nothing about the machinery of war, its consequences or its inevitable blowback. They know nothing about the peoples and cultures they target for violent regeneration. They believe in their divine right to impose their “values” on others by force. Fiasco after fiasco. Now they are stoking a war with Russia.
“The nationalist is by definition an ignoramus,” Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš observed. “Nationalism is the line of least resistance, the easy way. The nationalist is untroubled, he knows or thinks he knows what his values are, his, that’s to say national, that’s to say the values of the nation he belongs to, ethical and political; he is not interested in others, they are no concern of his, hell — it’s other people (other nations, another tribe). They don’t even need investigating. The nationalist sees other people in his own images — as nationalists.”
The Biden administration is filled with these ignoramuses, including Joe Biden. Victoria Nuland, the wife of Robert Kagan, serves as Biden’s undersecretary of state for political affairs. Antony Blinken is secretary of state. Jake Sullivan is national security adviser. They come from this cabal of moral and intellectual trolls that includes Kimberly Kagan, the wife of Fred Kagan, who founded the Institute for the Study of War, William Kristol, Max Boot, John Podhoretz, Gary Schmitt, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Frum and others. Many were once staunch Republicans or, like Nuland, served in Republican and Democratic administrations. Nuland was the principal deputy foreign policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.
They are united by the demand for larger and larger defense budgets and an ever-expanding military. Julian Benda called these courtiers to power “the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia.”
They once railed against liberal weakness and appeasement. But they swiftly migrated to the Democratic Party rather than support Donald Trump, who showed no desire to start a conflict with Russia and who called the invasion of Iraq a “big, fat mistake.” Besides, as they correctly pointed out, Hillary Clinton was a fellow neocon. And liberals wonder why nearly half the electorate, who revile these arrogant unelected power brokers, as they should, voted for Trump.
These ideologues did not see the corpses of their victims. I did. Including children. Every dead body I stood over in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Gaza, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen or Kosovo, month after month, year after year, exposed their moral bankruptcy, their intellectual dishonesty and their sick bloodlust. They did not serve in the military. Their children do not serve in the military. But they eagerly ship young American men and women off to fight and die for their self-delusional dreams of empire and American hegemony. Or, as in Ukraine, they provide hundreds of millions of dollars in weaponry and logistical support to sustain long and bloody proxy wars.
Historical time stopped for them with the end of World War II. The overthrow of democratically elected governments by the U.S. during the Cold War in Indonesia, Guatemala, the Congo, Iran and Chile (where the CIA oversaw the assassination of the commander-in-chief of the army, Gen. René Schneider, and President Salvador Allende), the Bay of Pigs, the atrocities and war crimes that defined the wars in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, even the disasters they manufactured in the Middle East, have disappeared into the black hole of their collective historical amnesia. American global domination, they claim, is benign, a force for good, “benevolent hegemony.” The world, Charles Krauthammer insisted, welcomes “our power.” All enemies, from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, are the new Hitler. All U.S. interventions are a fight for freedom that make the world a safer place. All refusals to bomb and occupy another country are a 1938 Munich moment, a pathetic retreat from confronting evil by the new Neville Chamberlain. We do have enemies abroad. But our most dangerous enemy is within.