One of the fascinating characteristics of conservatives is how they are able to live in an alternative universe within their own minds, one that can easily be called la-la land.
A good example of this phenomenon is conservative icon Max Boot, one of America’s most ardent interventionists and promoters of the U.S. national-security state’s domestic and foreign military empire.
Lamenting the possibility that President Trump is going to initiate a “radical reorientation of America’s foreign policy,” Boot makes a remarkable statement in an op-ed appearing in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, one that perfectly demonstrates the la la land in which he lives:
For more than 70 years, the United States has been the world’s leading champion of free trade, democracy, and international institutions, particularly in Europe and East Asia.
Is he for real? Does he really believe that?
Yes, and the reason he believes it is that he, like so many other conservatives, lives in la la land.
Consider Chile 1973. The Chileans had a democratic system, one that had been functioning well for decades. In that year, a self-proclaimed socialist-communist, Salvador Allende, got elected president. The election was legitimate and honest. Moreover, Allende won notwithstanding the millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that the CIA was secretly funneling to opposition candidates.
What did the U.S. government do about Allende’s election? Well, do you want the la la vision or the real version? Let’s go with the real version.
U.S. officials first conspired to bribe the members of the Chilean parliament in an attempt to get them to vote against Allende. (Since he had not received a majority of the votes, the election was thrown into the hands of the parliament.)
U.S. officials then conspired to kidnap the commanding general of the Chilean armed forces. The kidnapping resulted in his assassination. Why did they kidnap and assassinate Snyder? Because he was standing in the way of a military coup that U.S. officials were fomenting within the Chilean military establishment. U.S. national security state officials were telling their counterparts in Chile that they had a solemn duty to ignore the will of the voters and to destroy their country’s democratic system in order to “save it” from the man who had been democratically elected president.
When the coup finally did come, after the CIA did everything it could to “make the economy scream,” U.S. officials did everything they could to promote the unelected, dictatorial regime that took power, a regime that proceeded to incarcerate, torture, rape, assassinate, execute, or disappear tens of thousands of innocent people. In the process, U.S. military and intelligence officials brought about the execution of two innocent Americans who had supported Allende, one of whom had acquired evidence of secret U.S. complicity in the coup: Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi.
Augusto Pinochet’s rein of terror lasted 17 long years. To this day, there are still conservatives who extol the virtues of the Pinochet tyranny under the name of Pax Americana, a term that appears in the title of Boot’s op-ed.
It was no different in Guatemala in 1954: the intentional destruction of Guatemala’s democratic system by ousting that nation’s democratically elected president and replacing him with a brutal and corrupt military dictator. That regime-change operation, in the name of Pax Americana, resulted in a 30-year-long civil war that killed over a million Guatemalans.
Or Iran 1953: the CIA’s ouster of the democratically elected prime minister of the country and his replacement by the brutal, unelected tyranny of the Shah. That was followed by the CIA’s helping to establish and train the Savak, the tyrannical CIA-like agency that helped to maintain the Shah’s unelected hold on power for the next 26 years — until the Iranian people finally revolted against the U.S.-installed and U.S.-supported anti-democratic brutal tyranny of the Shah.
You see, in the la-la land of conservatives, the U.S. fights for democracy … so long as foreigners vote the right way. As soon as they vote the wrong way, U.S. Pax Americana kicks into play and death and destruction are wreaked against the recalcitrant nations. But all in the name of promoting democracy. That’s how la la land works.
Consider Egypt. Oh sure, democracy was fine until the Egyptian people elected the wrong person. And so, the Arab Spring had to come to a sudden end with the military coup that re-installed the Egyptian military into power, with the full support of the U.S. government. Today, millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer-funded weaponry continue to be furnished the Egyptian military tyrants to help them maintain their brutal anti-democratic hold on power.
How does Boot reconcile all this with his claim that the U.S. government is a leader for democracy? He doesn’t. That’s because he lives in la la land.
Consider Boot’s criticism against Trump for advocating protectionism and trade restrictions. At the same time he issues his criticism, Boot endorses the continuation of the U.S. government’s economic sanctions on Russia.
How does he reconcile his purported devotion to free trade with the concept of economic sanctions? He doesn’t. Remember: He’s a conservative. He lives in la la land.
Mr. Boot, reflect on that term: free trade. The operative word is “free.” What do you think the “free” in “free trade” is all about? It means that trade is free from government control and regulation.
Such being the case, how can free trade and government-imposed economic sanctions, which punish Americans for trading with Russians, be reconciled with each other? They can’t be … except in la la land.
It’s no different with the more than 50 years of the brutal economic embargo against Cuba. It punishes Americans who wish to travel to Cuba and spend money there. How is such punishment reconcilable with the principles of free trade? It isn’t … except in la la land.
It’s no different with the economic sanctions against the Iranian people, which are really being enforced for one reason only: because the Iranian people had the audacity to oust the U.S.-installed Shah from power. For that, they need to be punished by Pax Americana.
Amazingly, Boot implicitly defends U.S. interventionism into World War I. I didn’t think that there was anyone left who defended that intervention. It’s goal was to make the world safe for democracy and was going to be the war to end all wars. Yet, the result of that U.S. interventionism was the exact opposite and actually contributed to the conditions that gave rise to Adolf Hitler and World War II a short time later.
Not surprisingly, the disastrous consequences of WW I, just like those of WWII (e.g., communist control of Eastern Europe and East Germany, communist China, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the conversion of the federal government to a national security state), are all ignored in la la land.
Equally amazing, Boot fails to address what Pax Americana and the U.S. national-security state have done to the Middle East ever since the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA unexpectedly and suddenly lost their official Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, which had been America’s World War II partner and ally.
Look at Iraq. Look at Libya. Look at Syria. Look at ISIS. Look at the European refugee crisis. All rooted in U.S. interventionism and Pax Americana in the Middle East. In la la land, it’s best to just ignore the disastrous consequences of U.S. empire and intervention and to just play like the bad consequences didn’t happen.
Unlike Boot, I’m not optimistic that Trump is going to follow the lead of America’s Founding Fathers and lead the country in a non-interventionist direction. But he should. La la land is no place for America.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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