A Warmonger’s Guide to Militarism and Imperialism (Under the Guise of “Constitutionalism”)
By Thomas DiLorenzo
When Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton was an undergraduate at Harvard he took time out to become a “Publius Fellow” at the “Straussian” neocon Pentagon propaganda mill known as the Claremont Institute in Claremont, California. After graduating he returned to Claremont Graduate School to pursue graduate studies in “government” under the tutelage of the “Straussians” there, but dropped out to pursue a law degree instead. He then joined the U.S. Army, eventually going to Iraq to kill Muslims. All of this is why he is a darling of the most crazed neocons, especially Bill Kristol and his ilk. Since these crazed warmongers, who are now trying to start wars with Russia and China, control the Republican Party, they saw to it that the young Tom Cotton was elected to the U.S. Senate from The Land of Bill Clinton — Arkansas.
Calling the Claremont Institute a “Pentagon propaganda mill” is no exageration. After the entire world understood that the invasion of Iraq was entirely based on a Big Lie, promoted by such people as those associated with the Claremont Institute, the Claremont Institute awarded its annual “statesman of the year” award to Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Rush Limbaugh and Victor Davis Hanson for their respective roles in instigating and prosecuting this senseless and catastrophic military intervention that even the Bush administration’s British political sock puppet Tony Blair has apologized for.
The Claremont Institute neocons claim to be “the” experts on the U.S. Constitution, with their educational arm now being Hillsdale College, run by former Claremont Institute president Larry Arnn. They hold an annual “Constitution Day” event in Washington, D.C., with this year’s featured speaker being Senator Cotton, who spoke on the subject of foreign policy and the Constitution. The senator’s speech is published in the recent issue of Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College (a publication started by Lew Rockwell when he worked at Hillsdale, long before the neocon takeover). The speech is a textbook example of how the “Straussians,” who claim to have special knowledge of “the real meaning” of America’s historical documents (which is often dramatically different from the literal and historical meaning) distort history in the service of statism and militarism.
American foreign policy is often “a matter of prudence,” said the senator. That word – prudence – is repeated over and over and over by the Claremont neocons in describing Republican Party foreign policy. But who would consider the invasion of Iraq to have been “prudent”? Invading Iraq was reportedly the very first thing discussed at George W. Bush’s first cabinet meeting, long before 9/11. And of course Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and never had “weapons of mass destruction” that threatened anyone or anything in America. This was the “prudent” war that Senator Cotton resigned from a law firm to participate in. Moreover, who would call the destabilization of the entire Middle East, the product of neocon foreign policy, “prudent”? Only a dunce or a liar and deceiver, one suspects.
America’s wars are not the work of a few conniving, manipulating politicians controlled by special interests, says Senator Cotton, apparently echoing what he learned at the Claremont Institute years ago. Instead, “[O]ur constitution works . . . by filtering the wisdom of the people. . .” It’s “the people” who wanted to go to war with Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc., etc. It’s hard to believe that anyone would believe such nonsense. In his famous early twentieth-century essay, “War is the Health of the State,” Randolph Bourne wrote of how all wars have nothing whatsoever to do with “the people, but are always the work of “statesmen” and diplomats” and politicians meeting behind closed doors plotting and scheming on ways to dupe “the people” into supporting them once they start the war. This is the truthful and realistic view, in sharp contrast to the Claremont Institute/Hillsdale College/Tom Cotton view.
A real knee slapper is Senator Cotton’s further statement that, thanks to the Constitution, American foreign policy is characterized by “moderation, prudence, and self-correctability.” At least when it is run by Republicans. Self correctability? Is this how anyone would describe the Republican Party policy of bombing, occupying, and destroying the country of Iraq for twenty-five years, beginning with the first Gulf War in 1990? What mistakes have been “self corrected?,” one wonders. Senator Cotton gives no examples.
Are you satisfied with the never-ending boom-and-bust cycles in the economy caused by the Fed’s central planners? Are you satisfied with the welfare state that has destroyed the work ethic for millions, destroyed millions of families, and causes increased poverty no how much is spent? How about the disastrous “public” schools that are completely dysfunctional in so many cities? Or the militarized police? Or you name it. Well, Senator Cotton is. “Our constitutional system,” he informs us, “works to ensure that all individuals, interests, factions, lobbies and others who influence and are influenced by domestic policy are more or less satisfied . . .” (emphasis added). If you are influenced by any domestic government policy, he says, you are bound to be “satisfied.” “And the same thing plays out in foreign policy,” he says. Thus, you must be “satisfied,” by definition, with all of the madness and turmoil caused by the neocon wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. You must have loved the Vietnam War as well, and you probably long for the good ole days of World War. Is there really a single individual in America who is stupid and naïve enough to believe this?
Are you also satisfied with all the several-thousand-pages-long, secretive treaties that politicians make with foreign governments? Do you read the thousands of pages of small print that is in such treaties, such as NAFTA, most of which is the work of lobbyists and special interests? If so, does this make you happy and satisfied? It should, says Senator Cotton, because the treaty process in Washington, D.C. “ensures widespread acceptance among the people.” I guess Senator Cotton doesn’t consider the American Indians to be included in “the people” he is referring to here.
The original U.S. Constitution, in Article 1, Section 8, included in the legislative powers of Congress, “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriations of Money to that Use shall be to a longer term than two Years.” The founders obviously feared a standing army, having been harassed and plundered by the British standing army during the colonial era. Hence the restriction of a two-year appropriation only. In addition, the “army” was to be raised by the states which were responsible for organizing and training state militias. That is why, during the “Civil War, ”the armies were comprised of state militias organized and trained at the local level. Lincoln had only a miniscule standing army; he (and Jefferson Davis) had to request militia troops from all the respective states).
Senator Cotton seems unaware of these plain historical facts when he says in his speech that “Another principle of foreign policy rooted in the Constitution is that the Union must have a strong military.” Equally mysterious is his absurd contention that “the American tradition has never been to seek war, or to seek it first in a dispute.” Well, what can one say about this other than it is sheer nonsense. Lincoln did “seek war” when he sent warships to Charleston harbor. The U.S. government did “seek war” when it waged its campaign of genocide against the Plains Indians from 1865 to 1890. It did seek war with the Spanish empire in the Spanish-American War. It did seek war during the Filipino Insurrection when it killed more than 200,000 Filipinos for opposing becoming part of the American empire. Woodrow Wilson did seek war when he promised nonintervention as a presidential candidate and then plunged America into the European war. FDR did seek war when he ordered an oil embargo of Japan and all but invited the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor, as Robert Stinnett proved in his book, Day of Deceit. Truman sought war by senselessly intervening in Korea; and Lyndon Johnson used the fake “Gulf of Tonkin incident” as a justification for the escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War. And of course today, the crazed neocons who run the Republican Party, and who view Senator Cotton as their new poster boy for warmongering insanity, seem to be seeking war with all the rest of the world – another World War.
Senator Cotton ended his speech with the additional absurdity that to “defend our national honor today, we will need significantly more defense spending” because Iran is “our mortal enemy.” Huh? Iran threatens us? Surely that is the exact opposite of the truth. But that, you see, is what “Straussianism” is all about: telling you that “the truth” is actually the opposite of what your own lying eyes say it is – at least when it comes to war and foreign policy.