Neocon Redux

by BINOY KAMPMARK

President Barack Obama’s sin at the first Presidential debate was one of misunderstanding the rules.  The rules, that is, of theatre.  American presidential politics has for at least two generations been a matter of the forced smile, the folksy refrain, the false sense of interest in the people.  But when he decided to treat Romney as a sparring partner at a school debate, or at the very least a village idiot’s gathering, he came across as “detached”. The hideous reaction to the President’s disinterested behaviour has spawned a host of impromptu advisors seeking a retainer with the President.  Please Mr. President, we are here to help you deceive.

The age of ramped up deception is certainly upon us.  Mitt Romney chose to tell his audience at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington that he is keen on aping an old neoconservative platform.  He chose, with a certain degree of ill-informed guise, the words of George Marshall.  “The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.” This is hardly believable, but then again, this is Mitt, a person so malleable as a gummy character he is hard to pin down.

The world is a terrifying place for Romney, but he is happy to shed light upon the darkness and add a rudder to a directionless war machine.  He speaks of “mobs” shouting “Death to America” across the globe.  “As the dust settles, as the murdered are buried, Americans are asking how this happened, how the threats we face have grown so much worse, and what this calls on America to do.” Naivety has its place, but not here.

Behind the shoulder of Romney remain neoconservative pressures that are becoming all too familiar.  Complex rules of realpolitik are matters of inhibition for the dark arts of neoconservative philosophy. The freedom game, something America exports with spectacular, bloody ineptitude, is starting to find voice in the Romney arsenal.  “Statesmen like Marshall rallied our nation to rise to its responsibilities as the leader of the free world. We helped our friends to build and sustain free societies and free markets.”  Such atrocious simplicity shows Romney’s vision – stuck somewhere after the drafting of George Frost Kennan’s Long Telegram and before Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars initiative.

Romney scolds the President for ignoring American exceptionalism (something that all President’s irritatingly harp on about).  He bristles at Obama’s laxity towards Iran.  “It has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies, and to us.”  “Gains” made in Iraq were being “eroded” by an “insurgent Al-Qaeda, the weakening of democracy in Baghdad, and the rising influence of Iran.”  That is not so much Obama’s failing as the exporting of democracy, a decidedly unreliable capital in foreign “markets”.

This is a just a sprinkling of military omens in Romney’s Lexington show.  Syria’s bloody conflict demands attention.  Russian strength must be countered.  Romney wants a more active NATO, with member states setting aside 2 percent of their GDP.  When budgets for militaries should be slashed and social programs improved, Romney wants the gun toting establishments rewarded.  To excite the military professionals, he promises more blood.  “Drones and the modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national security for the Middle East.”

Such terrible things happen when people and nations start seeking justice – notably when it comes to doing it to others.  And Romney’s label as he starts to gain some sense of traction against the President, is proving to be a tired one – delusionary exporter of freedom, and the bloody hand of more foreign wars.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

Clearance Sale of Vintage
CounterPunch T-Shirts!

We’ve marked down some of CounterPunch’s most popular t-shirts to only$8.00,including the CP shirt featuring Alexander Cockburn’s own scrawl.

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalences on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Off-Shore Drilling
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises