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Thursday, June 27, 1996


As a tenet of faith I've persisted in the belief that Machiavelli's The Prince was written as satire. To not regard it as over-the-top precludes any hope for the human species; to view its brilliance as anything other than an extended gibe leaches out the irony which has been the safest available truncheon for those relegated to power's vestibules.

We've had no equivalent tract for centuries, although for a moment the other day when I opened up the latest Foreign Affairs I thought I had come across one of the finest examples of caricature I had ever read. Entitled "Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy" and bearing the bylines of William Kristol and his Weekly Standard associate, Robert Kagan, this swaggering burp-fest is in actuality a serious exhortation to Dole to formulate his foreign policy accordingly.

Not surprisingly, the imprint of Irving Kristol is all over these pages. Kristol pere as we loved him in Reagan I and its sequel: gunboat diplomacy, might-as-right, forces-of-light-and-darkness apocalyptica. The whims of the father have been well-visited upon the son, and we become reacquainted with the vision of "monsters" ready to pillage at will, stoppable only by an American "benevolent global hegemony" characterized by a "realistic" and "adult" appraisal of the world. America, Kristol and Kagan breathlessly intone, is the real "giant," capable of containing or destroying many of the world's monsters, "most of which can be found without much searching." Naturally, neo-Reaganite "military supremacy" and "moral confidence" should be the means to achieving this "sense of the heroic," this "conservatism of the heart."

It gets even more enrapturing. Certainly you're aware that America's moral goals and its fundamental national interests "are almost always in harmony." You know, I'm sure, that during the Reagan years the U.S. was completely evenhanded in its dealings with left-wing and right-wing regimes. And you sleep restfully knowing that other countries' denunciations of America's post-Cold War hegemonism can actually be taken as a "compliment" because these countries understand our global predominance and our serious dedication to "empire management."


This "remoralization" of American foreign policy can be put into place for an additional $60-$80 billion per year -- "not a radical proposal," our authors assert, when you consider that, without it, we could well be forced to "stand by and watch" the monsters "ravaging and pillaging to their hearts' content."

Overcoming public antipathy to higher defense spending requires making citizens notice that "they have never had it so good" and that they have taken the "fruits of their hegemonic power for granted." The appeal for a revitalized (and, above all, benevolent) hegemonism, Kristol and Kagan aver, would be best modeled on Paul Nitze's NSC-68 planning document of 1950 which bipolarized the world neatly into virtuous (us), and diabolical (them, and their friends). Presumably, making such a case "loudly, cogently, and persistently" will make it all a little less recondite for the average dolt, causing the populace to identify its material well-being with the merits of a bristling American power-projection ordained to topple all the new bogeymen and fashion a "world order shaped to suit American interests and principles. " To do so would be "good for the world."

America's ability to scapegoat and punish the world, we learn, has a consonant tie-in with conservatism's domestic agenda. Indeed, the "remoralization of America at home" requires such a foreign policy. Upholding the "core elements of the Western tradition at home"-- i.e., "relimiting" the social services safety net, warring against "relativistic multiculturalism" and the "collapse of standards" -- requires a commensurate application of American principles abroad. Here we've come full circle back to David Stockman at the woodshed. A collateral objective of Reagan's military spending bender was to leave no funding available for social spending, and the additional defense budget outlays Kristol/Kagan propose would rekindle that vision, consistent with a "broader, more enlightened understanding of America's interests." In short, a revival of one-stop shopping at its finest.


If Dole's remarks the other day at Philadelphia's World Affairs Council are indicative, the editorial board of The Weekly Standard will be writing his foreign policy speeches from now on. Dole's wheezy fulminations about restoring "decisiveness" and "purpose" to U.S. foreign policy (not to mention "nobility" and "principle") had all the odor of the Kristol/Kagan plea to stanch American anomie.

The Russian elections are clearly providing the opening for the interjection of this crypto-fascist swill. The moment couldn't offer a more favorable auspice for renewing a deliberate misinterpretation of Russian intentions; this is a set piece for Dole and those who have his ear. Likely more than 40 percent of Russians in the runoff will vote against the glories of free market capitalism, a provocation Dole defined as "challenging the interests of America and the West."

Clinton's porcine slipperiness vanishes on this issue, you can hear the neo-cons chanting as they ready his enclosure. Meanwhile we remain a kept audience to Dole's decomposing before our eyes into minute clumps of servility.

Roll over, Machiavelli, tell Paul Nitze the news.

Copyright John Hutchison 1996
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