Friday, March 24, 2006

On Bears and Vipers

Commentary by Martin Kelly
January 4, 2005

Bear baiting is one of the most disgusting and inhumane sports still practiced by man.

Given their own cruelty’s bottomless depths, it’s perhaps no surprise it’s one of the neoconservatives’ favourites.

Their version has two expressions. Although it’s hard to believe, the first has the potential to lead to a foreign policy catastrophe far more dangerous than the shambles they have visited on the Middle East.

The neos are all nice and happy now that democracy has won over tyranny in Ukraine. The truth is that, in that country, democracy has only won unless one believes that democracy and neoconservatism are identical – that it’s a democracy if your guy wins, by any means necessary.

As Justin Raimondo, Srjda Trifkovic and others have assiduously reported, the backing given by neoconservatives and other western interests to the campaign of the improbably poisoned Victor Yushchenko is at least as great as that given by Vladimir Putin to Victor Yanukovych. If he does it, it’s bad – so why is it good when we do it?

Generations of Russians grew up under the threat of MAD just as surely as generations of westerners – did we think that their memories of it would just vanish while ours would remain? What do they think when they see NATO bases in Turkey, Afghanistan and Central Asia? When there are unnecessary NATO airbases in the Baltic Republics?

What are they to think when the read editorials with titles like ‘Look back at Weimar – and start to worry about Russia’, such as that which appeared in the January 1 ‘Daily Telegraph’? The piece, written by Niall Ferguson, professor of history at Harvard, describes Russia as being on the path to dictatorship. Ferguson, a Scottish Thatcherite to his core, misses the one respect in which Weimar Germany and modern Russia are almost identical, that both countries’ people had and have cause to resent foreign interference in their economic life; in Germany’s case, the burden of reparations placed upon them by the Versailles Treaty, in Russia’s, the demands from outside that they continue with the absurd caricature of liberal capitalism that led to its people being beggared by the thief caste of oligarchs.

Vladimir Putin is the democratically elected President of Russia. In all likelihood, he’s not a nice guy – but he’s their guy; they elected him. The consistent application of pressure on Putin to do what we want is entirely counter-productive and the greatest real danger to world peace that could ever be concocted by the madmen of the American Enterprise Institute and Freedom House.

Lest we forget, he has nukes.

The second bear they love forcing to dance is the American economy. As long as the boardrooms are doing all right, the neos couldn’t care less, but the year 2005 should be a time of great prosperity; instead, it opens with massive economic uncertainty, which is all the fault of one man, their hero, George W. Bush. If there is a crash in 2005, it will be the worst ever, simply because, unlike other crashes or depressions, right now the whole deck, the federal budget deficit, the massive trade deficit, the weak dollar and the cost of war, is stacked against America.

George W. Bush has not shown himself adept at much in the last two years. His record this year could determine if the historians of the future describe him as the worst president ever.

In the midst of all this, the neoconservative vipers clamour for more action, more bloodshed, more enemies to fight, most likely Iran, a country against which no action could be taken without a draft. Possibly one of the most significant portents of impending trouble for this Presidency appeared in the January 2 ‘Sunday Telegraph’.

It described the Canadian-born rabid neoconservative David Frum as ‘a close political ally’ of the President.

In a quote that described him as ‘a prominent Republican’ (memo to the late Dutch Reagan – Will Ye No’ Come Back Again?) Frum took the UN to task about its ‘poor management record’ and in one sentence caught the very essence of neoconservatism: ‘We are not arguing about money, we are arguing about control’. Vladimir Putin couldn’t have put it better.

Along with Hollinger International’s faithless fiduciary Richard Perle, the Yale and Harvard educated Frum co-authored the neoconservative tract ‘An End To Evil’, describing how American forces would sweep through the Middle East to conquer the evil of terrorism – as the late English comedian Tommy Cooper used to say, just like that. The Reader’s Digest Resident Fellow at AEI and a former Senior Fellow at Myron Magnet’s Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research, Frum has been at various times an editor at the ‘Wall Street Journal’, a columnist for Canada’s ‘National Post’, a contributing editor to the ‘Weekly Standard’ and former Bush speechwriter who may or may not have coined the phrase ‘Axis of Evil’ and who now stands guard over the ideological purity of Rich Lowry’s ‘National Review Online’.

By his own admission, his conservatism is unorthodox, for example, he holds pro-choice beliefs (Frum, ‘Births and Deaths’, NRO, 11/6/2003). However, while Fallujah burned, and US troops were engaged in house to house combat fulfilling a Middle Eastern policy of which he had been one of the principal advocates, Frum showed his respect for those troops in a slightly unusual manner.

He took his son to a football game, specifically the Grey Cup, apparently one the highlights of the Canadian Football League season (Frum, ‘Dateline Ottawa’, NRO, 11/22/2004).

Alternatively described as ‘the country’s most obnoxious, self-aggrandizing conservative pundit’ (Smith, ‘America’s Most Obnoxious Conservative’, New Partisan, 12/15/2004) and a ‘cheap Canadian careerist’ (Taki, ‘The Bum Frum’, The American Conservative, 4/21/2003), the alleged sins of David Frum include being a hatchet man (Frum, ‘Unpatriotic Conservatives’ NRO, 3/19/2003); of being a liar (Fleming et al, ‘The Lies of David Frum’, Chronicles Extra, 3/21/2003); of being a braggart (Engel, ‘Proud wife turns axis of evil speech into a resignation letter’ Guardian Unlimited, 2/27/2002; Noah, ‘David Frum: On Second Thought, I Didn’t Coin “Axis Of Evil”, Slate, 2/26/2002): of being an anti-homosexual bigot and yellow journalist (Frum, ‘Manslaughter’, NRO, 6/10/2004: Frum, ‘A Terrorist At Twilight’, Front Page Magazine, 4/11/2004): and of being a well-heeled thug (Novak, ‘Axis of Ego’, The American Conservative, 3/24/2003).

We live in days of bears and vipers. Happy New Year.