Wednesday, April 27, 2005


If you haven't been subscribing to Tom Englehardt's daily Tomgram you've been doing your knowledge and analysis base capabilities terrible harm. Sign up, sign up....

As a starter the above link takes you to a recent posting of material by an important conservative analyst Andrew Bacevitch. As Tom says, he's 'written a book on militarism, American-style, of surpassing interest. Just published, The New American Militarism, How Americans Are Seduced by War would be critical reading no matter who wrote it. But coming from Bacevich, a West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, former contributor to such magazines as the Weekly Standard and the National Review, and former Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, it has special resonance.' And Tom makes the obvious comparison with another important and now critical authority on American foreign policy, self-confessed (ex-) 'spearcarrier for empire' Chalmers Johnson.

There are two excerpts from The New American Militarism.
The Normalization of War
'At the end of the Cold War, Americans said yes to military power. The skepticism about arms and armies that pervaded the American experiment from its founding, vanished. Political leaders, liberals and conservatives alike, became enamored with military might.

The ensuing affair had and continues to have a heedless, Gatsby-like aspect, a passion pursued in utter disregard of any consequences that might ensue. Few in power have openly considered whether valuing military power for its own sake or cultivating permanent global military superiority might be at odds with American principles. Indeed, one striking aspect of America's drift toward militarism has been the absence of dissent offered by any political figure of genuine stature. '

A second excerpt can be found here: New Boys in TownThe Neocon Revolution and American Militarism.
In our own time -- and especially since the ascendancy of George W. Bush to the presidency -- "neoconservative" has become a term of opprobrium, frequently accompanied by ad hominem attacks and charges of arrogance and hubris. But the heat generated by the term also stands as a backhanded tribute, an acknowledgment that the neoconservative impact has been substantial. It is today too soon to offer a comprehensive assessment of that impact. The discussion of neoconservatism offered here has a more modest objective, namely, to suggest that one aspect of the neoconservative legacy has been to foster the intellectual climate necessary for the emergence of the new American militarism.

As a practical matter, the task of reinventing neoconservatism for a post-Communist world -- and of spelling out an "imperial self-definition" of American purpose -- fell to a new generation. To promote that effort, leading members of that new generation created their own institutions.

The passing of the baton occurred in 1995. That year, Norman Podhoretz stepped down as editor of Commentary. That same year, William Kristol founded a new journal, the Weekly Standard, which in short order established itself as the flagship publication of second-generation neoconservatives. Although keeping faith with neoconservative principles that Commentary had staked out over the previous two decades -- and for a time even employing Norman's son John Podhoretz in a senior editorial position -- the Standard was from the outset an altogether different publication. From its founding, Commentary had been published by the American Jewish Committee, an august and distinctly nonpartisan entity. The Weekly Standard relied for its existence on the largesse of Rupert Murdoch, the notorious media mogul. Unlike Commentary, which had self-consciously catered to an intellectual elite, the Standard -- printed on glossy paper, replete with cartoons, caricatures, and political gossip -- had a palpably less lofty look and feel. It was by design smart rather than stuffy. Whereas Commentary had evolved into a self-consciously right-wing version of the self-consciously progressive Dissent, the Standard came into existence as a neoconservative counterpart to the neoliberal New Republic. Throughout Norman Podhoretz's long editorial reign, Commentary had remained an urbane and sophisticated journal of ideas, aspiring to shape the terms of political debate even as it remained above the muck and mire of politics as such. Beginning with volume 1, number 1, the editors of the Standard did not disguise the fact that they sought to have a direct and immediate impact on policy; not ideas as such but political agitation defined the purpose of this new enterprise.


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