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Here’s the mainstream foreign policy narrative:
Anyone who believes that America should pursue an America First foreign policy and not an Israel First foreign policy is an anti-Semite. Anyone who doesn’t want to provoke a war with Russia must be on Putin’s payroll. Anyone who believes the US should get out of Syria is a heartless isolationist who doesn’t care for the plight of poor Syrian children. In fact, these “crazy isolationist” beliefs make one an anti-American traitor, since our “American values” require us to spread “freedom and democracy” to the entire world, by force if need be.
Or so we are told by the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists.
Lew Rockwell, in a recent speech at a Ron Paul Institute event, observed that whenever neocons refer to “national interests,” “national security,” or the like, we ought to always replace the word “national” with “imperial” in our heads to get a better sense of what they’re really talking about. Is the U.S. occupation of Iraq in the national interest? Is it truly benefiting the average working American citizen in any way? Is it promoting the economic prosperity or securing the defense of the American people? The answer to these questions, after fourteen years of war, is surely a resounding “no.” What, then, can be meant by the “national interest” other than the imperial interest which the neocons truly pursue? Similarly, is it in the national interest to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria? No, but it is in the imperial interest to do so (although it currently seems the Trump administration is shying away from this endeavor). The same could be said for essentially all U.S. military activities in the Middle East. Due to the success of neocons at hijacking the concept of nationalism, however, many Americans remain blind to this reality.
I discussed before in my last article how “reasonable moderates” like to gaslight their opponents through their subtle control of the Overton Window. Neocons and liberal interventionists alike, often comprising much of this “moderate” faction, have exerted an immense amount of influence over the Overton Window regarding foreign policy, reducing the range of “acceptable opinion” to the point where any Republican who disagrees with John McCain’s foreign policy (e.g. Ron Paul) is a “crazy isolationist” and any Democrat who disagrees with Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy (e.g. Tulsi Gabbard) is an apologist for foreign dictators and a fascist sympathizer. This stranglehold on the mainstream foreign policy narrative has resulted in the unquestioned continuation of destructive interventionist policies that have done nothing but sow chaos and death across the world, especially in the Middle East. There remain small pockets of resistance to the War Party agenda among libertarians, paleoconservatives, and the alt-right, but these voices continue to be drowned out by the relentless beating of the war drums from the mainstream media, establishment politicians, and Washington think tanks. Why has the War Party been so successful at controlling the national conversation on foreign policy? It is largely due to their subtle and dishonest rhetoric, which they use to manipulate the unwitting public into supporting whatever war they claim to “be in the national interest.” The rhetorical tricks and intellectual dishonesty of the neocons must be exposed by anti-war dissenters at every turn if we wish to have a real chance at winning the minds of the public.
The “Anti-Semite” Card
The pernicious influence of the Zionist lobby is not too difficult to sniff out if one is really paying attention to US foreign policy. Writers and journalists like Pat Buchanan, Phil Giraldi, and even Paul Gottfried (who is Jewish himself) have warned about the threat of the Zionist lobby for a long time. They have also convincingly exposed the ways in which these pro-Israel propagandists have hijacked the foreign policy of America for Israeli interests. Yet, despite the fact that no real arguments or evidence are ever presented to the contrary, establishment talking-heads consistently smear these dissenters as “anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists,” and often attempt to use this “anti-Semite” card as a means of getting them into trouble. The most recent instance of this was when Phil Giraldi was fired from his writing position at The American Conservative (a formerly paleoconservative outlet which has gradually been going “moderate” since its original founders left management there) for writing an article making virtually the exact same points made by its founder Pat Buchanan in his first article for the magazine. A former CIA operative named Valerie Plame retweeted this article, drawing the immediate ire of mainstream media pundits, who, predictably, did not actually attempt to refute Giraldi’s claims, but simply presented them in an incredulous manner and called the article “anti-Semitic” as if his arguments were self-evidently false simply by virtue of being “anti-Semitic.” Plame, despite expressing agreement with the article’s criticism of neocons, apologized for her tweet and resigned from her position on the board of the Ploughshares Fund.
Those of us who are anti-war and recognize the evils of neoconservatism must not be afraid of being called anti-Semitic simply for pointing out the obvious and well-documented connection between Zionist lobbying interests and US foreign policy. As Giraldi argues, those with a clear conflict of interest between Israel and America should not be in positions of power over US foreign policy. Why should American citizens be forced to foot the bill for wars that have nothing to do with America’s so-called “national interest”, but everything to do with Israel’s interest? As it turns out, the “imperial interest” that Lew Rockwell referred to in his speech is actually not so much of an American empire, but of a Zionist empire utilizing the American military to pursue Jewish interests in the Middle East. One does not have to hate Jews themselves to recognize that Jewish lobbyists bear a significant amount of responsibility for the destruction U.S. foreign policy has wrought in the Middle East. Giraldi writes:
The end result of Israel centric policymaking in Washington is to produce negotiators like Dennis Ross, who consistently supported Israeli positions in peace talks, so much so that he was referred to as “Israel’s lawyer.” It also can result in wars, which is of particular concern given the current level of hostility being generated by these same individuals and organizations relating to Iran. This group of Israel advocates is as responsible as any other body in the United States for the deaths of thousands of Americans and literally millions of mostly Muslim foreigners in unnecessary wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. It has also turned the U.S. into an active accomplice in the brutal suppression of the Palestinians. That they have never expressed any remorse or regret and the fact that the deaths and suffering don’t seem to matter to them are clear indictments of the sheer inhumanity of the positions they embrace.
The claims that America’s Middle Eastern wars have been fought for Israel are not an anti-Semitic delusion. Some observers, including former high government official Philip Zelikow, believe that Iraq was attacked by the U.S. in 2003 to protect Israel. On April 3rd, just as the war was starting, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz headlined “The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history.” It then went on to describe how “In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in [Washington]: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another.”
And the deference to a Jewish proprietary interest in Middle Eastern policy produces U.S. Ambassadors to Israel who are more comfortable explaining Israeli positions than in supporting American interests. David Friedman, the current Ambassador, spoke last week defending illegal Israeli settlements, which are contrary to official U.S. policy, arguing that they represented only 2% of the West Bank. He did not mention that the land controlled by Israel, to include a security zone, actually represents 60% of the total area.
Giraldi continues, proposing some “anti-Semitic solutions” to this conflict of interest:
My suggestion for countering the overrepresentation of a special interest in policy formulation was to avoid putting Jewish government officials in that position by, insofar as possible, not giving them assignments relating to policy in the Middle East. As I noted in my article, that was, in fact, the norm regarding Ambassadors and senior foreign service assignments to Israel prior to 1995, when Bill Clinton broke precedent by appointing Australian citizen Martin Indyk to the position. I think, on balance, it is eminently sensible to avoid putting people in jobs where they will likely have conflicts of interest.
Another solution that I suggested for American Jews who are strongly attached to Israel and find themselves in a position that considers policy for that country and its neighbors would be to recuse themselves from the deliberations, just as a judge who finds himself personally involved in a judicial proceeding might withdraw. It would seem to me that, depending on the official’s actual relationship with Israel, it would be a clear conflict of interest to do otherwise.
Establishment media pundits, of course, will always portray critics of the Zionist lobby as anti-Semitic no matter what we say. However, we must not allow them to control the conversation using the “anti-Semite” card as leverage. If they are going to call us “anti-Semites” for taking a principled stand against destructive interventionist wars for foreign interests, then so be it. It’s not an argument, anyway.
Russophobia and Kafkatrapping
Neoconservative commentators and politicians alike have been particularly fond of kafkatrapping in recent times, particularly with the mainstream media’s incessant pushing of a collusion narrative between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in the 2016 election. Anyone who wishes for America to pursue friendlier relations with Russia so as to avoid nuclear war, and/or doubts this collusion narrative is automatically hit with accusations of having ties to Putin, as if that’s the only reason one could be against escalating tensions with Russia. Look no further than the heated exchange between Tucker Carlson and Col. Ralph Peters a few months ago on the Tucker Carlson Show, and a later one between Carlson and Max Boot. Peters and Boot both made themselves look like rambling fools (a fate that usually befalls Carlson’s debate opponents), with Peters unironically comparing Vladimir Putin to Hitler, and Boot claiming that Carlson was “immoral” for denying that Trump is a Russian agent. There was also the incident in which John McCain claimed that Rand Paul was working for Putin for opposing yet another expansion of NATO power, and also the infamous list of “Russian propaganda websites” published by the Washington Post, which included sites like The Ron Paul Institute, LewRockwell.com, and Antiwar.com (the very fact that Antiwar.com was included on this “list of shame” is very telling as to the true intentions of these Russia-haters). Even the “libertarian” Reason Magazine couldn’t resist joining the War Party, as demonstrated by their ridiculous anti-Russian hit-piece that could easily have been written by Bill Kristol (and was brilliantly taken apart by Bionic Mosquito in this must-read response).
These neocon commentators, however, are simply the “intellectual” mouthpiece for the broader anti-Russian hysteria that has gripped the left in general since the 2016 election, with baseless claims of Russian interference continuing to be thrown around by those desperately looking for an excuse for Hillary Clinton’s loss. Aside from the fact that these accusations are completely hypocritical coming from those who are silent regarding the American Deep State’s election-interfering activities in other countries and the imperialistic foreign policy of the United States in general, there is simply no evidence behind such claims (even after the recent indictments), unless one considers something true simply because a CIA official says so (a dangerous assumption, based on history). Furthermore, new revelations that the “research” behind the information contained in the infamous Trump dossier was funded by Clinton campaign and the DNC and also the vindication of Trump’s previous claims that he was being wiretapped (which at the time were ridiculed as a conspiracy theory) act as further evidence that this whole Russia-gate business is largely fueled by a sore loser mentality among the Left over Trump’s election victory. They lost an election, and now they want someone, something to blame for it, even if it means escalating tensions with a nuclear power to the point of war.
Of course, normal people aren’t too fond of the prospect of nuclear war, so the pro-WWIII crowd has to do something to attain the moral high ground. Thus, they tie Putin to Trump (i.e. the Antichrist in the leftist religion), and also magnify the speck in Russia’s eye (Russia is a dangerous imperialist power!) while ignoring the log in their own (the US is committed to spreading freedom and democracy!) and in doing so “justify’ their bellicose rhetoric regarding Russia to the masses. Anyone objecting to this anti-Russian narrative, or even those who don’t think it’s a good idea to antagonize Russia over unsubstantiated claims of election interference, are branded as Putin’s puppets.
When it comes to Russia, there are two types of people. Those who want nuclear war, and those who don’t. It is becoming increasingly clear that the prime candidates for physical removal should be the journalists, pundits, and politicians currently pushing for WWIII with Russia. Normal Americans shouldn’t have to fear dying in a mushroom cloud just because some idiots are still butthurt over the election results and want someone to blame for it (other than Hillary of courese).
Putin really isn’t paying me enough to say this.
The “Isolationist” Smear and “Humanitarian” Wars
The anti-war Left has been dead since Obama’s presidency, but it never became so clear until the advent of the Syrian Civil War. For it was during this conflict that the mainstream media mastered the art of “humanitarian” war propagandizing, and their success utterly exposed the vacuous nature of whatever anti-war “convictions” the Left may have had before.
The problem with the anti-war Left is that their anti-war stance is based on emotions, not ethics. This is why it’s so easy for mainstream media pundits to manipulate them into supporting wars like the one in Syria, for instance. All one has to do to turn an anti-war Leftist into a pro-war Leftist is claim the war in question is for a humanitarian cause, and then show some sad pictures of suffering children to “prove” it. To make this even more effective, the foreign leader being intervened against must have some connection to Trump. In the case of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, this connection is fairly straight-forward. He is allied with Vladimir Putin, who in turn is Trump’s puppet master. Therefore, Assad, Putin, and Trump are part of a fascist triumvirate intent on overthrowing the “global democratic order.” Since globalism and democracy are two of the highest values for Leftists, Assad must be deposed by any means necessary, including the arming and training of “moderate” rebel groups aligned with ISIS and Al-Qaeda. And of course, anyone who opposes this agenda is a heartless isolationist who doesn’t care about the suffering of the poor children whose pictures were shown on CNN.
“Isolationism” has always been used by interventionists as an intellectually dishonest smear since the years leading up to World War II. Now, however, the smear is especially effective due to how people have been taught to think about World War II and in particular the false notion that the non-interventionist America First Committee was filled with Nazi sympathizers. Therefore, by stretching a comparison between Hitler and Putin, or Hitler and Assad (muh chemical weapons!) neocons are able to portray modern non-interventionists in the same light as the America First Committee (AFC) is portrayed in popular history. Aside from the historical evidence that completely contradicts the “Nazi-sympathizer” portrayal of the AFC and the ridiculousness of comparing Putin and Assad to Hitler, the biggest problem with the “isolationist” slur is that it paints a completely inaccurate picture of what most non-interventionists actually believe. Daniel Larison writes:
Virtually no one in America today or in the past subscribed to a truly “isolationist” approach to the rest of the world, but then the purpose of the label has always been to distort the positions of the people to whom it is applied. Advocates of peace, restraint, and non-interference in the affairs of other nations have not typically used this label to describe themselves (and today we absolutely reject it), because we aren’t interested in isolation from the world but in avoiding unnecessary wars and costly permanent security commitments all over the world. To say that someone is an “isolationist” because he doesn’t want to join (or start) wars overseas is akin to calling someone a shut-in because he chooses not to break into another person’s house and set fire to the building. It’s a ridiculous description if one were interested in being accurate, but of course the people that fling this label at others have no interest in that.
For libertarians, the non-interventionist stance is ultimately based on the non-aggression principle and the obvious reality that foreign wars for the purpose of regime change, democracy-spreading, nation-building, or any other non-defensive goal are violations of the non-aggression principle. On the other hand, libertarians do support free trade and the maintenance of peaceful relations between different nations around the world, in accordance with Ludwig von Mises’ vision of liberal nationalism. As David Gordon explains:
Everyone benefits through peaceful and cooperative exchange on the free market. With social cooperation through the market, human beings are no longer locked in a struggle in which the gain of some comes at the expense of others. Interference with the free market impedes peaceful cooperation and should be opposed by those who want peace and prosperity.
Mises’s remarks about nationalism depend on this basic insight. He opposed trade restrictions and other policies like currency devaluation by which one nation tried to gain at the expense of others. As always for Mises, social cooperation through the free market was of primary importance.
To call libertarians “isolationist” based on our non-interventionist foreign policy stance is entirely dishonest and reveals the War Party’s lack of real arguments against the non-interventionist position. To compensate for their lack of moral high ground, they must resort to strawmanning, gaslighting, and kafkatrapping their opponents to give off the illusion of a moral high ground to the masses. This is why it is so important for us to expose their deceptive rhetoric and reclaim the moral high ground in the foreign policy debate. Murray Rothbard once said that “the war-peace question is the key to the whole libertarian business.” Indeed, the lives of millions of people around the world depend on whether or not we can get this question right. The longer the neocons maintain their chokehold on the foreign policy narrative, the more people will be killed in senseless wars, the more liberty will be lost in the West, and the faster social decay will accelerate in the world.
Non-interventionism must be made great again. Civilization itself hangs in the balance.