And the title of Kagan's piece is just too damned cute for words: Not Fade Away. Nothing like co-opting The Rolling Stones* to make the case for endless hegemony. (Personally, I would have called it Sympathy for the Devil) Here are some of the mendacious snippets:
The present world order—characterized by an unprecedented number of democratic nations; a greater global prosperity, even with the current crisis, than the world has ever known; and a long peace among great powers—reflects American principles and preferences, and was built and preserved by American power in all its political, economic, and military dimensions.(Pay no attention to decades-long wars, the rise of the security state and the greatest income disparity the world has ever known. It's been peace, love and rock n roll all along.... reality is only for wimpy pessimists. As long as the 1% get along within their own elite cliques, who cares about the little people and the little countries).
Some of the pessimism is also due to the belief that the United States has lost favor, and therefore influence, in much of the world, because of its various responses to the attacks of September 11. The detainment facilities at Guantánamo, the use of torture against suspected terrorists, and the widely condemned invasion of Iraq in 2003 have all tarnished the American “brand” and put a dent in America’s “soft power”—its ability to attract others to its point of view.The fact is, Kagan seems to argue, is that the rest of the world has always gone through these periods of hating us, just like small children who, when throwing tantrums, scream that they hate their parents. But they don't really mean it, and everything always ends up sweetness and light because Father Knows Best. Kagan lists example after example of countries falsely hating the USA to their own detriment, case after case of past predictions of American decline never coming true. The Cold War is over, Communism was destroyed, we shall prevail. America has survived all the blows to its reputation abroad: the McCarthy witch hunts, racial discrimination, The Ugly American depicting Uncle Sam as a big fat bully, assassinations, Kent State, riots at conventions, Vietnam, Watergate.
If one wanted to make a case for American decline (Kagan continues) the 1970s would have been the time to do it; and many did. The United States, Kissinger believed, had evidently “passed its historic high point like so many earlier civilizations.... Every civilization that has ever existed has ultimately collapsed. History is a tale of efforts that failed.” It was in the 1970s that the American economy lost its overwhelming primacy, when the American trade surplus began to turn into a trade deficit, when spending on entitlements and social welfare programs ballooned, when American gold and monetary reserves were depleted.More examples follow of America not being to control external events: even the world paternalist could not make Israel and Palestine get along. The rest of the world continued to complain about American overreach throughout the 80s and 90s. So what if we don't have complete and total world dominion every minute of every day, Kagan retorts. Whoever said the people we dominate have to love us? We still got de power! We're in it for the long haul. Here is possibly the most nauseating paragraph in the whole article:
Today the United States lacks the ability to have its way on many issues, but this has not prevented it from enjoying just as much success, and suffering just as much failure, as in the past. For all the controversy, the United States has been more successful in Iraq than it was in Vietnam. It has been just as incapable of containing Iranian nuclear ambitions as it was in the 1990s, but it has, through the efforts of two administrations, established a more effective global counter-proliferation network. Its efforts to root out and destroy Al Qaeda have been remarkably successful, especially when compared with the failures to destroy terrorist networks and stop terrorist attacks in the 1990s—failures that culminated in the attacks of September 11. The ability to employ drones is an advance over the types of weaponry—cruise missiles and air strikes—that were used to target terrorists and facilities in previous decades. Meanwhile America’s alliances in Europe remain healthy; it is certainly not America’s fault that Europe itself seems weaker than it once was. American alliances in Asia have arguably grown stronger over the past few years, and the United States has been able to strengthen relations with India that had previously been strained.
(Translation: we killed hundreds of thousands of people to make up for the murder of 3000 on 9/11. And we will continue to kill countless thousands more. Nothing is our fault. The global banking cabal headquartered on Wall Street has bolstered our strength even as it has crushed our own citizens).
And finally, Kagan considers economic crises irrelevant to our continuing status of World Superpower. He continues the GOP lie that "entitlements" will destroy our nation faster than any war. Watch for this paragraph to be included, in some form, in an upcoming column by David Brooks:
What about the financial expense? Many seem to believe that the cost of these deployments, and of the armed forces generally, is a major contributor to the soaring fiscal deficits that threaten the solvency of the national economy. But this is not the case, either. As the former budget czar Alice Rivlin has observed, the scary projections of future deficits are not “caused by rising defense spending,” much less by spending on foreign assistance. The runaway deficits projected for the coming years are mostly the result of ballooning entitlement spending. Even the most draconian cuts in the defense budget would produce annual savings of only $50 billion to $100 billion, a small fraction—between 4 and 8 percent—of the $1.5 trillion in annual deficits the United States is facing.So yeah, since war is cheap, let's blame Grandma for eating more than her share. This is the theme hammered away in countless forms by Brooks. And as an aside, how's this for a Tale of Three Davids: Obama campaign operative David Axelrod told David Gregory yesterday that David Brooks is one of the country's "great public thinkers."
This perfectly gels with Barry's new man-crush on Kagan. But maybe man-crush is too intense a characterization, because Kagan is already taken. He is married to Dick Cheney's former deputy national security advisor, Victoria Nuland. And just to show how much Obama is truly the embodiment of Bush's Third Term, Nuland was appointed spokesman for the State Department last summer. She replaced P.J. Crowley, who was fired after criticizing inhumane treatment of war crimes whistleblower Bradley Manning.
Ezra Klein elaborates on Obama's enthusiasm for his newfound hero:
In a recent, off-the-record meeting with news anchors, Obama spent more than 10 minutes "going over its arguments paragraph by paragraph, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor confirmed." National Security Advisor Tom Donilon was dispatched to Charlie Rose to "discuss Kagan's essay and Obama's love of it." So it's not just the president who likes Kagan's article. It's the White House communications team who likes the idea of letting people know the president likes Kagan's article.Okay, it's official. Barack Obama is a NeoCon and he wants everybody to know it. So rest easy, Republicans despairing over losing this year's election: you have already won.
* The Rolling Stones did a cover of "Not Fade Away" in 1964, and that version is listed in the 500 greatest hits in rock history. It was originally recorded by Buddy Holly in 1957. Thanks, Marina.