[This is the third chapter of Murphey's book Out of the Ashes: America's Renewal? (2002).]

                                                                      Chapter 3

 

                                      THE IDEAS UNDERLYING INTERVENTION

 

            Since the early nineteenth century the Left in the United States has been deeply alienated against the mainstream society, which it calls "bourgeois."  The Left has produced a massive literature charging Americans in virtually every walk of life – it is a mistake to think it has just been in business – with provincialism and a limited mentality.  As part of its alienation, it has also accused the United States of much atrocious behavior.

            In a series of studies during the 1990s, I examined six of the purportedly most flagrant episodes:                   . the three-century dispossession of the American Indian,

               . the relocation of the Japanese-Americans from the west coast during World War    II,

               . the history of lynching,

               . the "Hollywood Blacklist,"

               . the J. Robert Oppenheimer national security case, and

               . the shootings at Kent State.1

            My goal was to study each objectively, but without starting from an alienated perspective.  This produced a result sharply different from the "politically correct" (leftist) consensus that prevails about them, since in each case I found the charge unjustified.        

            It is important for readers to know that I have defended the American people in several instances where virtually no one else has spoken up from their perspective.  This is relevant because there have been other episodes in American history where Americans have in fact, in my opinion, committed wrongs they should be ashamed of.  When I talk about some of them here, it won't be from the "hate America" point of view.  I have a strong revulsion against "blaming the victim" for the atrocities of September 11, for example.  Nevertheless, the things I will discuss are important to understanding American thought about foreign affairs.  I won't hesitate to point to the shallowness and naivete of much American innocence about foreign affairs.  (Indeed, we are an "innocent" people in world affairs; but an innocence carved out of ignorance, hubris and sentiment leads to a strange oxymoron: culpable innocence.  Most assuredly, that is the best many of the other peoples of the world can credit us for.)

            The failure to understand other peoples deeply and empathetically is almost certainly not uniquely American.  It is a universal, or at least a near-universal, trait, if we are to take seriously the lesson in William James' delightful essay "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings."  James wrote about how people often miss what is going on in the lives of other people, and especially miss the meaning that life has to those others.  If there is a general blindness in human beings' daily relations with each other, it is more than likely magnified so far as their understanding of strangers is concerned.  And few people count as "strangers" more than those living within other cultures.

 

A confused welter of principles

                                                   

            Here are some of the ways cultural naivete has been apparent in American attitudes about world affairs:

 

1.  The belief that currently-held American and Western perceptions and values are universal (even though the attitudes may be of very recent origin and may change rapidly in historic terms), the reverse side of which is a failure to appreciate the world's vast complexity.

            Cultural historian Samuel Huntington speaks of "the Western and particularly American belief in the universal relevance of Western culture.  This belief" he says, "is expressed both descriptively and normatively.  Descriptively it holds that peoples in all societies want to adopt Western values, institutions, and practices... Normatively the Western universalist belief posits that people throughout the world should embrace" those things. That this outlook is false, immoral and dangerous because of the means of interference and control that will be needed to carry it out is the central thesis of his recent book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.2

            During the non-interventionist first century of the United States' national existence, Americans believed in the superiority of their institutions and way of life, which is why they wanted them to stand as an example to others.  They thought it was something else entirely to see this as a mission to mold other peoples in that image. 

            Such a mission has become, however, a premise underlying the meliorism supported by today's "world community."  It isn't hard to understand how other peoples, who thought they had thrown off the colonial system of the European empires after World War II, see it as a cultural re-colonization.

            Such a mission overlooks the world's unfathomable complexity.

            Consider India: In Culture & Foreign Policy, Valerie M. Hudson cites a book about the condition of children in India, where there are "no effective laws mandating universal education and no effective laws banning child labor."  "India, he [Weiner, the book's author] points out, is the largest single producer of the world's illiterates.  Weiner attributes this state of affairs to a set of beliefs widely shared by state bureaucrats, social activists, academics, and, more broadly, the Indian middle classes – of whatever political persuasion.  These groups, he argues, tend to view social inequality and differential privilege as the natural and proper order of things... Weiner argues that these beliefs have their origins in religious notions and in the premises that underlie India's hierarchical caste system...."3

            Consider the Balkans: Robert Stacy McCain wrote an article recently titled "The Balkans have a long history of factions and warfare," with a subheading that "the clash between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo is the latest incident in centuries of conflict in the Balkans."4  The current divisions, he says, go back as far as 395 A.D. when the Roman Empire was split in two; "the dividing line ran through what is now Bosnia.  Croatia and Slovenia were part of the Western Empire and the areas of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia went to the Eastern Empire.  That division is still reflected in the religions of the region: Croatia and Slovenia are largely Roman Catholic, while the Serbs are part of the Eastern Orthodox churches."  Centuries of Ottoman dominance later added Islam as a third major religion and culture. 

            With reference to just part of the broader division, Callahan tells how "the history of conflict between the Serbs and the Croats stretches back hundreds of years.  Each nationality has an oral tradition that highlights its persecution at the hands of the other.  During World War II, Serb civilians were massacred in vast numbers by Croats...."5   It is little wonder that Huntington can observe that "the Bosnia Serbs and the Bosnia Croats overwhelmingly rejected" the American insistence (born out of current multiculturalist ideology) upon a multiethnic Bosnia.6

            Consider Kosovo: Americans not long ago were repulsed by images of Serbian forces burning homes and forcing ethnic Albanians to flee.  Americans weren't aware, of course, that that sort of group violence has long been prominent among the Albanians themselves.  A history of Kosovo shows that the customary law of the Albanians (the Kanun, which remained an oral tradition until it was written down in the nineteenth century) set out the rules of the "blood feud."  British historian Noel Malcolm says that its concept of honor holds that "an offence is not paid for with property, but by the spilling of blood or a magnanimous pardon."  "The aim is not punishment of a murderer, but satisfaction of the blood of the person murdered... Honour is cleansed by killing any male member of the family of the original offender, and the spilt blood of that victim then cries out to its own family for purification."  All of this has been accompanied by "the burning down of the offender's house and the expulsion of his family."  Malcolm says that "one mid-nineteenth-century vendetta in the Malesi [the northern Albania highlands]... led to 1,218 houses being burnt down and 132 men killed."7  Because Americans know little of this, they assumed that the Albanians they saw fleeing on television as their homes burned are people very similar to themselves. 

            Complexity and an intricate prior history – not a readily understood clash of good and evil – have also defined the situations in Lebanon, Biafra and Palestine.  According to Callahan, "During the early 1970s, the Muslims of Lebanon felt underrepresented and, at times, ill-treated by a Christian minority that refused to acknowledge the country's changing demographic reality.  In the years before Biafra was formed, the Ibo of Nigeria had come to believe that their security and political rights could not be protected by the Nigerian government... The 1987 Palestinian Intifada in Israel's Occupied Territories arose after twenty years of Israeli rule that left a huge population of people politically disenfranchised, economically impoverished, and subject to various forms of harassment...."8

            Many other cauldrons around the world may be added to this list: the repeated attempts at genocide, one against the other, by the Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda and Burundi; the plight of the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq; the ethnic complexity of Indonesia, with its 17,000 islands and 300 languages, a complexity that the bloodshed in East Timor brought to world attention;  starvation and the rule of the warlords in Somalia; the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir; and the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka. 

            The world a simple place, readily grasped?  Hudson points to "recent upheavals... that include the ‘third wave' of global democratization that began with the fall of Portugal's dictatorship in 1974; the continuing growth since the Iranian revolution of 1979 of Islamist movements in much of the Middle East; the burgeoning phenomenon of ‘collapsed states' in places like Somalia and Rwanda in Africa; and, perhaps most notably, at the outset of the 1990s, the collapse of Marxist regimes in Eastern Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia."9

            In-depth analysis and a marvelous grasp of history are needed fully to explain any of these situations, but that is precisely what is lacking in any outlook that sees the world in simple ideological categories.  Even this is faulty: it assumes "a full explanation" is possible.  More likely, the reality in any of these situations is a mixture of fact, sacramentalized myth (which, far from being merely empty fabrication, is vitally important to people as they attribute meaning to their lives), subjectivity and long-harbored outrage.  Anyone who says he "understands" it so well that he is willing to impose his own "solution" onto it is necessarily willing to settle for an over-simplification.

            There is an associated confusion: The fact that the consensus at any given time within certain "enlightened" nations has come to think and feel a certain way (in what is, in fact, merely the latest stage in a series of phases in which the consensus has gone from one moralistic attitude to another) does not mean that all other peoples are at the same "stage of development" socially, culturally, morally and intellectually.  I don't mean to suggest by this any progressive phase-theory about societies; it is enough merely to point out that not all members of the global choir are "singing from the same page."  It is profoundly naive to think that attitudes in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century are universal (or, for that matter, will be long held even in the United States; it's noticeable they aren't the same attitudes that existed a few years ago). 

            Centuries ago in New England, there was a general belief in witchcraft, leading to the now-infamous hanging (thought erroneously by many to have been burning) of "witches" in Salem.  The belief was soon abandoned.  But a December 2000 news report from Mexico City told of a widespread belief in witchcraft in Mexico today, where "witches" from "all over Latin America" even "hold annual conventions."10   The "New Age" sections of American bookstores carry much material, presented seriously, about witchcraft.

 

  

2.  The underlying assumption behind the Kellogg-Briand mentality:  that the world has reached a point at which the status quo can be presumed legitimate, so that any effort to change it by force is necessarily a violation of international order.

            One of the reasons members of the United States Senate voted down the League of Nations Covenant was that, like the Holy Alliance at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, it "implied an attempt to freeze the global status quo," which the opposing Senators knew was futile.11

            This same split between a realistic view of the world and naive optimism emerged again in 1928 with the Pact of Paris, also known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  The Pact renounced war as an instrument of national policy.  It was eventually ratified by almost every country.  The U.S. Secretary of State, Frank B. Kellogg, was awarded the 1929 Nobel Prize for negotiating it in cooperation with Aristide Briand, the French foreign minister.  Its futility was soon made clear by Japan's 1931 invasion of Manchuria and Italy's 1935 invasion of Ethiopia.  The problem was not even mainly that it lacked a mechanism for enforcement; its basic assumption, that the world had reached an end-point, a stasis, in which all conflicts can be settled by negotiation, overlooked the  complexity of the existing world, the extent to which peoples differ over whether the current dispensation is "just," and the explosive pressures of on-going demographic change.

            This naivete has continued, undeterred by the failure of the Pact.  Robert H. Jackson notes that "the basic norm of the UN Charter concerns the recognition of [state] boundaries and a pledge not to infringe upon them without lawful cause."  He recognizes that this norm is at odds with "culture, religion, language, ethnicity, or any other nonjuridical definition of statehood in international relations." 

            Jackson gives a recent example: "When in 1990 the German chancellor questioned the postwar boundary separating Poland and a reuniting Germany, he was informed in no uncertain terms... that the boundary could not be questioned and must be accepted."12  This is a boundary that is itself a moral monstrosity and very likely a bone in the throat of future European peace; it came about at the end of World War II when Poland's western border was moved west, appropriating an integral part of Germany, and Poland's eastern border was itself moved far west to allow the Soviet Union to take a significant portion of what previously had been eastern Poland.

            The Kellogg-Briand premise that the status quo must be inviolate (unless on some basis the "world community" condones a change) is reflected in much of what we hear today.  It is implicit, for example, in Callahan's observation that "a capacity to predict ethnic conflicts is of little use if it cannot be harnessed to policies of prevention."  He notes that "efforts to prevent ethnic conflict [are] now quite extensive."  This assumes that conflicts are inherently evils to be prevented. Callahan supports this assumption even though he knows the difficulties; he says that "responding to ethnic conflict must be part of a broader strategy for reinvigorating U.S. internationalism" and he speaks of the need to "promote lasting stability in conflict-riven parts of the world."13  The reader will notice that "ethnic conflict" is thought of as a generic category, an abstraction, without any effort to consider the merits of particular disputes, which necessarily implies an assumption that the status quo is at least presumptively valid and permanent.

 

3. The premise, often implicit, that unless intervention continually steers them onto the right path great portions of the world are bound to spiral downward.

            A likely explanation of the psychology of interventionism is that many people feel forebodingly that the world will take a slippery slope downward unless it is prevented from doing so.

            Such pessimism is precisely what Adam Smith undercut when he wrote about the harmony of undirected economic effort by countless independent actors, who by their behavior formed a "market" with certain self-adjusting features.  Mercantilism had said the opposite; nothing was expected to work unless it was directed.  During the two-plus centuries since that debate, the same issue has divided classical liberals from socialists, such as Stuart Chase, who saw the need for "central planning."  American "liberalism," as we know it, has relatively little faith in the ability of life to thrive on its own.  Everything requires a boost and without it is trapped by circumstances.  Similar attitudes have appeared in religion, where American history has seen various movements, of which the Social Gospel was just one, that have presupposed that a great many people would be misdirected without the fervor of the moral reformism they have preached.

            In Chapter 8 we will revisit the point made in Chapter 1 that the vast technological revolution through which the world is just beginning to pass will bring not only vast and unforeseen blessings but also a broad displacement of work and an explosive polarizing of incomes and wealth.  With that in mind, we will see the need for a worldwide sharing of consumer technology to prevent a precipitous downward slide by hundreds of millions, more likely billions, of people.  But if we set that aside until we get to it, and consider humanity in the world as we have known it, we see that there has been no reason to think that vast portions of the world would sink into an abyss.  On the contrary, it used to be the assumption of many, such as the English Whig historian Thomas Babington Macaulay, that humanity was on an upward trajectory.  The twentieth century gave much reason to shake that article of faith, but did it provide a firm basis for an opposite conviction?  To say so assumes that human beings are inert or worse, which isn't the case most of the time.  At the very least, in the absence of immense economic displacement and the steps needed to address it, the issue is so much in doubt that there should be no automatic premise that global intervention is needed as a way perpetually to prop up the world.

 

4. The readiness to see looming dangers where they do not exist – in effect, as John Quincy Adams said, "going abroad in search of monsters to destroy."

            An important variation on the theme that things will spiral downward in the absence of intervention is the view that a balance of power must everywhere be maintained by American military might – or else global or regional "hegemons" will "dominate" the world or some part of it (or at least "challenge American primacy").  We need to understand that this is a premise that by itself will put the United States into the middle of every situation.  Often, the "prevention of the rise of hegemons" means struggling against a very natural tendency, all the while making an enemy of the nation that is to be restrained in opposition to its normal growth and influence.

            The most important single example of this today is China (although the "specter of Islam" has been the center of attention since September 11).  China now has 1.2 billion people and is expected to grow to a billion and a half in the next quarter-century.  At the same time, it is growing economically and technologically at breakneck speed.  Sixty million Chinese live in the nearby countries, and are leaders in their economies.  And yet, several authors call for the United States to "balance" against China's becoming a "dominant" power in East Asia.  It is essential that we see that they are calling for the impossible, since, given the facts we have just recited, China's having a towering presence is inescapable.  They are urging a premise that guarantees inevitable hostility and eventual war. 

            A similar prediction of attempts at "world domination" is being made about Islam in the aftermath of September 11.  This prediction is made by some commentators only about "fundamentalist Islam," as Linda Chavez did in her New York Post column on October 10.  "The enemy," she says, "is militant Islamic fundamentalism."  She cites the Koran as "filled with elaborate instructions on the conduct of war, the methods of executing the infidels, the rewards that will accrue to those martyred in a holy war."   But others cast a much wider net, and make the same dire assessment of Islam as a whole.  Again, passages from the Koran, going back several  hundred years, are quoted to show Islam's expansionist intent.  In a review she has written of Bat Ye'or's book The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, Ellen Myers has spoken of "Islam's goal of world dominion."  She quotes Ye'or as saying that for Islam the world "is divided into two regions... the ‘domain of Islam' and ‘the domain of war'... The earth belongs to Allah and all its inhabitants must acknowledge this reality; to achieve this goal there is but one method: war."

            These imputations of commitment to world war are ridiculous.  They ignore both the existence of the vast number of peaceable, moderate Muslims within the highly diverse composition of Islam as it exists in real life, and the off-setting existence of the other eight civilizations.  Islam cannot "dominate the world" so long as the United States, China, Europe and Russia exist.     

            When I made this point to a friend recently, he countered with the fact that Europe and America are themselves coming to have major Islamic populations.  But to what are we to ascribe that?  If Islam spreads demographically into Europe and the United States, that is more a reflection of the immigration policies of their own peoples acting under the influence of "multiculturalist" ideology and their own lack of will to exist than it is a demonstration of Muslims' own will to power.  Again, those who create a fiction of "expansionism" where none exists are putting the West in the position of "begging for a fight."  It is a prescription for perpetual war.  And perpetual war is unspeakably dangerous now that asymmetrical weapons of mass killing are available.  Conflict with an immense population can lead to short-term victories in battles or even what we might call "wars," but never in the larger conflict itself.

            There should, of course, be great skepticism toward any such assertion that someone is out to dominate the world.  For it to be accepted, the evidence must be compelling.  The country or the people must have both the intent and the capability.  Part of the evidence must be that the expanding force has such universal appeal that it can be expected to pick up backers, resources and momentum as it progresses.  Communist ideology had this potential because it provided a vehicle for every sort of envy and frustration.  Nazi ideology lacked it because a doctrine of Germanic superiority would hardly be appealing to non-Germans.  To the extent Nazism had a broader appeal, it was because of other aspects than its pro-Germanism, such as its appeal to those who idealistically opposed the "chaos and venality" of non-command societies and its quasi-religious call for a more "heroic" life than could be found in commercial civilization. 

            As compared to either Communism or Nazism, the German nationalism of Kaiser Wilhelm, which was thought by Woodrow Wilson and others to make the world unsafe for democracy, was only by fevered imagination turned into a world-expansionist force.  The gross exaggeration of the "evil" he represented (an exaggeration that was believed in passionately by my grandparents) transformed World War I into an existential conflict in which each nation was convinced it faced the unthinkable if it did not prevail.  We run the risk of fashioning precisely such a polarity, on a purely fanciful ground, if we do the same thing today with either China or Islam.

 

5.  Conceptual confusions.

            Double Standards

            The existence of confused and internally contradictory ideas within the program of meliorist intervention is nowhere better illustrated than through the presence of double standards:

              One of the most egregious, long-lasting and damaging has related to the totalitarian ideologies.  Hitler was seen as pure evil well before there was any intimation of an extermination program against the Jews; but Stalin, who had already murdered millions through his enforced starvation in the Ukraine and elsewhere in 1932-3, his rampant purge-trial executions and his deportation and enslavement of vast numbers, was considered sufficiently acceptable by the United States and the West that Stalin's attacks on Poland, the Baltic states, and Finland were ignored (and even today continue to be omitted in the popular retrospectives written or shown on television), with the result that the West was quite willing to enter into an alliance with a totalitarian USSR to fight a totalitarian Germany.  Churchill and FDR wound up toasting Stalin at Yalta, a conference at which decisions were made premised on faith in Stalin that in effect delivered hundreds of millions of people in eastern Europe and the Far East into Communist hands.  The ideological double standard is evident today to those who visit the Mall in Washington, D.C., where they can tour the Holocaust Museum to see a graphic depiction of Nazi horrors but find no comparable commemoration of the far more numerous victims of Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Castro and Pol Pot.14 

            Until a thorough-going correction of this ideological double-standard evolves and permeates world consciousness, little will be understood with any accuracy about the twentieth century.  It is central to countless issues.

            Don Feder points to a double standard when he writes that "in Western eyes, all humanitarian disasters are not equal.  In 1995, Croat dictator Franjo Tudjman drove 300,000 Serbs out of the Krajina region, killing 14,000 in the process.  Having determined that the Serbs... are the enemies of civilization, Clinton and NATO ignored this ethnic cleansing" (emphasis added).15  Nevertheless, it was to stop "ethnic cleansing," depicted as an absolute evil, that the United States intervened in Kosovo by massively bombing Serbia.  This difference in treatment of the ethnic cleansings by Croatia and Serbia, respectively, cannot be justified by the kind of prioritizing that would cause the United States to intervene in the Balkans but not in Rwanda.  Croatia and Serbia are right there together. 

            Callahan tells how in 1994 President Clinton played a role in the negotiations over Northern Ireland.  "At Clinton's direction, Tony Lake, his national security adviser, wrote to the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and urged him to accept a secret offer by the British government to establish a dialogue on peace if the IRA ordered a cease-fire."16  In light of this, if we have some historical memory and care at all about the principles involved, it is worth asking: Who is right as between William Clinton and Woodrow Wilson over the beautiful ideal of "open covenants, openly arrived at"?  Is there any conceptual consistency about that, or have we accepted the notion that the "open covenants" formula was mere rhetoric?  Most likely, we just don't think about it.

            Huntington highlights others: "Democracy is promoted but not if it brings Islamic fundamentalists to power; nonproliferation is preached for Iran and Iraq but not for Israel; free trade is the elixir of economic growth but not for agriculture; human rights are an issue with China but not with Saudi Arabia; aggression against oil-owning Kuwaitis is massively repulsed but not against non-oil-owning Bosnians." 

            Non-Westerners, he observes, "do not hesitate to point to the gaps between Western principle and Western action."17  An article in The Times of India in 1998 said that "the U.S. and British governments should know a lot about Mr. [Saddam] Hussein's WMD [weapons of mass destruction] arsenal.  In the eighties, they – or their corporations – made billions helping him build it... In the nineties, he suddenly became a villain... To punish him, the West must employ double standards... Washington cites Resolution 687 to demand unfettered inspections.  But surely it would not like some other UN resolutions (e.g. 242 on vacating Israel's occupation) to be implemented."  The author notes the disparity between the United States and Britain's having nuclear weapons while denying their legitimacy in the hands of other nations.18  To citizens in the West, this difference seems normal and desirable; but other peoples are acutely aware of the incongruities.

            An Associated Press report in April 2001 presaged September 11.  "In northwest Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of Muslims from around the world celebrated the hard-line approach to Islam and berated the West – and the United States in particular – as being bent on the destruction of Islam.  They shouted support for a global jihad, or holy war."  The report went on the say that "an Islamic leader, Liaquat Baluch, said the anger is born of an increasing frustration with the West, which Muslims see as having two standards: one for Islamic nations, and another for non-Islamic nations... It demands democracy in Pakistan, now ruled by the army, but says nothing about the monarchy that runs Saudi Arabia...."19

 

            "Self-determination": another conceptual confusion

            Conceptual confusion arises in other ways, too, not just in double standards.  Invoking the concept of "self-determination," Woodrow Wilson "called for the creation of many new states to represent the yearnings of ethnic groups that had been ruled by the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires," according to Callahan.  The concept is "premised on the notion that all peoples with a sense of national distinctiveness [have] a right to self-determination."20 But a little reflection shows that the concept is fraught not only with incredibly fractious difficulties in implementation, but also with a serious ambiguity.  When a population of Hispanic origin comes clearly to have a majority in the southwestern United States, will it be the majority in those states or the majority in the United States as a whole that has the right of self-determination?  That is, what is the "unit" to which the concept applies?  And what point in time is to be conclusive?

            Another difficulty is that the concept would confirm the results of every demographic shift regardless of the "meaning" the previous people have come to invest in the land that is now occupied by the newcomer and regardless of the "meaning" the previous people attach to their own continued historic integrity.  The investiture of life with meaning is one of the more essential features of human existence, and is understood by all who are not themselves deracinated.  All of this is brushed aside with shallow incomprehension by the high-sounding ideal of "self-determination," which is naive and poorly thought-out.

            Despite its inconsistency with the "self-determination" principle, which hasn't been consciously repudiated, the conventional wisdom in the United States today is that "multiethnicity" is not just desirable but morally demanded in any society; but this, too, raises serious questions.  The world community ostracized South Africa until finally the white minority gave up its Apartheid (separateness) policy and turned the country over to the black majority, with the idea that a multiethnic society would result.  Nevertheless, it is not suggested that Japan or China need to become multiethnic to make themselves internationally acceptable.  When the recommendation was made recently that "historic homelands" be internationally recognized for the 18 million Kurds in Iraq, Iran and Turkey; for the 2 million Hungarians in Romania; and for the 600,000 Hungarians in Slovakia, this invoked an idea of separateness that was treated as despicable when South Africa tried it.21

            The "multiethnicity" formula, for its part, absolutizes a certain confusion in the thinking of today's world elite, but is hopelessly muddled because if taken seriously it simultaneously affirms and denies the value of distinct ethnicity: ethnicity is exalted, but it is intolerable for a people to separate off and protect their own.  In today's world we need to understand, of course, that the concept is not to be taken seriously, precisely because within the vagaries of contemporary ideology, with its alienation against the West most especially by the intellectual class of the West itself, "multiethnicity" is primarily an ideological weapon.  It is a way of demanding that Westerners abandon their ethnic distinctiveness while others are encouraged to celebrate their own.

            The truth is that neither "self-determination" (by specific ethnic groups) nor its opposite, "multiethnicity," should be thought of as a moral absolute.  Neither fits all situations.  And it requires a God-like omniscience and presumption for outsiders to say which it should be in any given context.

            The making of any principle into a moral absolute contradicts the assumed notion that the world's status quo is valid and should not be disturbed.  This is because the world simply is not organized around a single principle.  The global "consensus" approaches any given situation with a self-righteous moral certitude about the principle that at the particular moment strikes the consensus as most attractive.  This simply illustrates the conceptual confusion.  Despite all its self-assurance, the "world community" hasn't stopped to think these things through.

 

            Confusion over "moral equivalence"

            During the struggle to contain Communist expansion, a serious moral error made by many observers who opposed an anti-Communist response to the so-called "wars of national liberation" was to treat both sides as morally equivalent.  Force used in defense of a people against Communist guerrilla warfare was condemned as itself immoral, such as when the U.S. incursion into Cambodia to destroy the Communist sanctuary there provoked riots on American university campuses.

            The alleged moral equivalence in that setting was perverse.  The devotees of a totalitarian ideology were making it their business to force that ideology, with all the killing and other horrors that went with it, onto the world at large.  The non-Communist peoples did not "pick the fight"; it was forced on them.  To fail to see one side as morally worthy and the other as not was to forfeit the will – and, with it, the right – to resist.

            Conservative commentators who recognized that perversity are, by extension, inclined to condemn other perceptions of "moral equivalency," as though the same point applies in today's world. (In what follows, I will refer to two such authors for whom I have the utmost respect.)  Columnist Cal Thomas, for example, in April 2001 cited how U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell "blamed the Palestinian side and their unprovoked mortar attack on Israel for the new outbreak of violence," and then criticized Powell for including Israel in the blame: "But then, in the usual moral equivalency that has characterized past administrations, Secretary Powell said Tuesday that Israel is failing to live up to its part of the 1993 Oslo peace accords...."22

            Along the same lines, Steven Mosher rejects notions of moral equivalency between China and the West.  "Many China experts [argue] that there is nothing to be gained, and much to be lost, by lecturing China... In the name of moral equivalence, they set aside China's obviously retrograde political values and institutions," and accordingly "ignore human rights abuses in China."23

            One of the great difficulties in social thought is that it is often necessary to make distinctions where situations differ.  Both Thomas and Mosher are using a concept where it no longer fits.  The issue of "moral equivalency" actually involves two separate issues: one about the respective merits, morally, of the opposing sides in a conflict; and the other about whether it is appropriate for outside parties to make a judgment (or, having made a judgment, to act upon it).

            With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is by no means clear that the moral weight is on the side of the Israelis; it is, arguably, on the side of the Palestinians because of the forcible creation of Israel in their midst after World War II.  (One becomes enmeshed in a quagmire of "infinite regress" if one tries to assess blame for any one of the later attacks that either side has made against the other.  Each attack can be, and in fact is, considered a reprisal for an earlier attack by the other side.  It is a serious fallacy, probably fashioned out of bias in favor of one side or the other, to decide who the "good side" and the "bad side" is based on a reaction to anything that has happened recently.)

            Nor is it clear that outsiders have an obligation to decide the issue, or to act upon it if they do.  The Commission on America's National Interests ranks the "survival of Israel as a free and prosperous state" as one of the United States' "vital interests," which the Commission says are the things "indispensable for [U.S.] survival."  But, of course, this is ludicrous.  It is a ranking that shows how much the Commission adapted its findings to domestic political and ideological imperatives.  The United States is not well served by being the enemy of either the Israelis or the Arabs; both should be our friends.  The only way to accomplish that is to stay out of their confrontation, or at most be an "honest broker" between them.

            With regard to China, anyone who cherishes an "open society" of limited government and personal freedom will not find it difficult to believe that Western values are morally superior to those of the prevailing Chinese dictatorship.  They are not "morally equivalent" when judged purely in those terms.  Where the difficulty arises is in supposing that China's internal affairs are "our business."  Do we respect the sovereignty of China, or do we not?  There is no end to the entanglements and dangers that are implied by setting up the United States or the West as the moral censor of the world.  Those entanglements can easily lead to damage to – or even the destruction of – a great many things that we cherish as themselves having moral value.

 

           "War Crimes"

            Finally, thought should be given to the recent move toward the definition and punishment of "war crimes."  A number of war crime trials were convened in the aftermath of World War II, most conspicuously that conducted by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and the comparable trial in Tokyo.  In 1993 the United Nations responded to the war in Bosnia by creating a war crimes tribunal at the behest of the Clinton administration.  In August 2000 the U.N. Security Council voted to set up a war crimes court to hear prosecutions against rebel leaders in Sierra Leone.  Then in late December 2000 President Clinton signed a treaty that would establish the world's first permanent international war crimes court.  These developments are conceptually flawed in at least four ways:

            First, there is no way to avoid the prosecutions' being highly selective and partisan, making a mockery out of the Rule of Law.  We have already noted the double standards applied by the U.S.-led "world community" to the reciprocal slaughters between the Serbs and the Croatians.  In the context of war crimes, such a double standard "stacks the juridical deck" in favor of some and against others.  World public opinion still has not come to see the atrocious betrayal of justice at the IMT in Nuremberg, where the indictment charged the Germans with killing the Polish officer corps at the Katyn Forest, a Soviet general served as one of the four judges, and the Katyn charge was not even mentioned in the Final Judgment (a telling reflection on its integrity) when the facts made it clear that the Soviet Union, not the Nazis, had done the killing. 

            No international tribunal has ever been convened to indict Stalin or other Soviet officials for that mass killing – or any other.  The recent Black Book of Communism by several European scholars says that there have been virtually no prosecutions for Communist atrocities after the collapse of Communist states, despite an estimated 85 to 100 million victims.  That is worth repeating: 85 to 100 million victims and no prosecutions. 

            We are told of "gross violations of human rights" by Belgian paratroopers as part of the United Nations effort in Somalia.  "Belgian paratroopers, ashamed of what they had seen, bore witness anonymously on Belgian Radio, saying that ‘official kill figures should be multiplied by four or five.'  It soon became obvious that most of the statistics in those ‘kill figures' were in fact unarmed civilians."24

            In a world of such selectivity, the ideal of the Rule of Law is easily brushed aside by an action-oriented humanity.  In a great many contexts, it seems, the objection that "a mockery" is made of "the Rule of Law" seems to carry very little weight.  It is an objection that means almost nothing to the acting man, even at the highest levels.  This fact by itself suggests that an organized legal system is often a vehicle for human passions and isn't as far removed from lynch-justice as most people assume it is.  The ideal of the rule of law is one of mankind's noblest, but much of the time there is little real commitment to it among people as they go about their practical affairs.

            Given this selectivity, it cannot be surprising that the war crimes tribunals are seen by many as instruments of politics and policy, not of law and justice.  Aleksandar Popovic, the new president of Yugoslavia after the ouster of Slobodan Milosevic, is no enthusiast for the court at The Hague, which he considers a "political" instrument.25 

            As the United States attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan after September 11, President George W. Bush established a system of military tribunals to try non-citizens who conspired in the atrocities.  There was much criticism that this "violates the Rule of Law."  What those critics did not understand was that any attempt to cloak punishment with the forms of law in such a situation would itself horribly mangle the concept of law, since the trials would be mere charades, similar to that at Nuremberg.  There would be, and could be, no impartiality, which true procedural justice demands.  Show trials don't serve the Rule of Law, they mock and distort it.  It showed respect for the Rule of Law to treat the matter of punishment as a political and military issue, to be made a subject of administrative decision, as Bush did.

            Second, a vast accumulation of evidence shows that atrocities are not aberrations, as usually assumed, but are virtually a universal part of warfare.  Anything approximating an even-handed criminal process will need an army of investigators, judges, jailers and executioners, and military forces for enforcement.  These will then need to prosecute the military forces, regular and irregular, of literally every country, not just of a few.  Even the victors and often their leaders should be prosecuted.  But no one wants this sort of even-handedness.

            When we think of "war crimes," we may bring to mind images of the wanton killing of hundreds or even thousands, and especially of civilians or prisoners (since they are defenseless).  But compare the list published in Insight magazine of just the more recent genocidal killings: "Sudan, where 1.5 million-plus are dead; Rwanda, where estimates range from 500,000 to 800,000; East Timor, at least 100,000; Sri Lanka, 54,000; Tajikistan, 30,000 to 50,000; Algeria, 70,000 to 80,000; Liberia, 200,000; Chechnya, 80,000; Ethiopia-Eritria, 10,000 in recent weeks; Iraq, 1 million; and Kosovo, 2,000 prior to the NATO bombing attacks."26  Even these rank low when compared to the slaughters that preceded them in the twentieth century.  The figures, given as aggregates, obscure the fact that each victim was a human being who, if the circumstances had been right, could have been photographed and shown to us graphically in a way that would fill us with outrage.

            Third, those who support the indictment and punishment of war criminals will do well to consider that a shift of fortune can bring the whole thing down on their own heads.  The immunity the United States and other Western nations enjoy from international criminal indictments is entirely a product of superior power.  But the arrest of Pinochet in England upon the motion of a Spanish judge, something smiled upon by the world community while Pinochet was held for several months until he was finally released to return to Chile because of failing health, raises the specter that at some future time no country's leaders will be able to travel into other countries without the possibility of being arrested and tried.  In fact, the international community has even condoned one country's kidnapping an individual from another country for criminal trial and execution.         Fourth, a threat of war crimes prosecution is a practical equivalent of a demand for "unconditional surrender."  For the leaders of the country faced with defeat, it turns the struggle into a desperate fight for personal survival. Great Britain's foreign secretary, David Owen, saw this about Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, saying that Milosevic "would sooner provoke a civil war in Montenegro or even Serbia before he'll allow himself to face a war-crimes tribunal."27   There may be times when it makes sense to induce such desperation, but it is only confused thinking that can believe that that is advisable in all instances.

 

                                         Moral Dualism: the Demonizing of Enemies

 

1.  The American belief in the purity of its motives.                       

            Notwithstanding the contrary facts that Marxian analysts or sociological realists can most certainly adduce, and notwithstanding also the cynicism toward institutions and motives that was argued so forcefully by the counterculture of the 1960s and that is held to by those (on both Right and Left) who are most aware that underneath the vast superstructure of modern government there is at all times a struggle of self-interested groups, the American public has almost always believed in the purity of American motives in international affairs.  The least we can say is that when millions of people believe they are acting in a good cause out of selfless motives, the very belief gives a tangible reality to it, making it a moving force. 

            We have seen, for example, that the American people pursued some very questionable, naive, uninformed and ideologically skewed moral choices as they reacted to Pearl Harbor and went into World War II, based on a double standard that ignored Stalin's bloodthirsty history; but this does not diminish the very real fact that the millions who went to war, in the armed services and through work on the homefront, did so with the utmost conviction about the rightness of their crusade against what they perceived as intolerable evils.  Americans look back now at that generation as "the greatest generation" who "fought the good fight," so that even now, more than half a century after the war, almost no American is able to look past that to see the horrors inflicted in pursuit of that very cause.  Americans know, and rightly so, of the immense courage of those, for example, who flew the bombers over Germany.  But tragic irony lurks behind that wonderful sense of having been so right: there is a disconnect, a compartmentalizing of realities.  The heroism remains pure and unsullied, while off in a different world there is also the awful truth of what was done to the hundreds of thousands of refugees, mostly women and children, who were subjected to the fire storm at Dresden.

 

2. Demonizing opponents. 

            How can such a splitting of reality occur?  The answer is that ones conviction that he is entirely right has a second side to it – a readiness to see opponents as necessarily thoroughly perverse (i.e., "evil").  The premise: if they [the opponents] were decent people, they couldn't possibly support what they do.  And this leads on: when opponents are seen virtually as demons, embracing as they do pure evil, the crusade against them becomes a desperate imperative, justifying whatever measures are needed to destroy them and force their unconditional surrender.  The "enemy" are not just the leaders, but the people themselves who are perverse enough to support the leaders.

            There may be times in life when an unambiguous Good faces an unambiguous Evil.  But that can hardly apply to a face-off between two peoples.  When we are talking about millions on each side, those millions involve enormous numbers of both ordinary and extraordinary human beings.  Among them will be many who are compassionate, intelligent, morally upright, caring about their families – in other words, thoroughly decent.  That isn't changed by the fact that they may (or may not) be passionately committed to their country's cause.  

            The shallowness of understanding that lies behind both the conviction of total rightness and the perception of enemies as purely evil is, as with the naivete and shallowness generally, not a uniquely American trait, just as we saw earlier with regard to other examples of naivete.  Referring to what he calls "fault line wars," Huntington says that "each side demonizes its opponents, often portraying them as subhuman, and thereby legitimates killing them.  ‘Mad dogs must be shot,' said Yeltsin in reference to the Chechen guerrillas.  ‘These ill-bred people have to be shot... and we will shoot them,' said Indonesian General Try Sutrisno, justifying the massacre of East Timorese in 1991."28

            If we want to know how it is that human beings can do unthinkable things to each other, we need to understand how it is that people can come to see others as "below the threshold of their sensibility."  The demonizing of opponents is one way.  (But unfortunately there are others, which should be a major concern of any theory of criminology and even an important part of psychological theory.) 

            I run the risk of overstating Americans' propensity to demonize opponents if I don't direct attention to at least one instance in recent years in which Americans felt a compassionate impulse precisely not to overlook the humanity of their opponents.  During the Gulf War, Americans were fascinated by the televised images of "smart bombs" and other high technology, and were thoroughly anti-Hussein, but at the same time were almost sick at heart about the very fact of war and the miseries it would impose.  This has been very little commented upon, if at all.  I was especially aware of it because at the beginning of Desert Storm I wrote a poem called "An American Pledge" expressing those very sentiments, and I know how well it was received, which included its having been reprinted in several newspapers.  (Oddly, but consistently with the thesis of this chapter, the American people have lost all sense of this empathy during the ensuing ten years of economic embargo against Iraq, which has caused untold suffering by the Iraqi people.  That suffering has been unseen by the American people, since the media almost never mention it.)

 

            The centuries-long demonizing of the Spanish. 

            Patrick Buchanan describes how the Spanish were demonized during the Spanish-American War.  This built on the "Black Legend," a stereotype that had long seen "Spaniards as bloodthirsty despots." Buchanan says that "led by William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, the papers competed daily in the vitriol they poured on the Spanish."29

 

            The demonizing of Milosevic and the Serbs. 

            In connection with the bombing of Serbia as part of the recent fight over Kosovo, President Clinton compared the Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, to Hitler.  Serbs generally were pictured as entirely in the wrong, in effect a criminal people.  In the context of world and American opinion, the comparison with Hitler was the blackest possible.  (Thomas Fleming of the Rockford Institute pointed out how absurd it was: "The death rate in Kosovo before the bombing was lower than the murder rate in [Washington] D.C.")30  Discerning readers will understand that to point these things out does not make someone a partisan for Milosevic or the Serbs.

 

            The demonizing of Osama bin Laden.

            President George W. Bush has cast the "war against terrorism" as a conflict between Good and pure Evil.  Here, we run into the paradox that the motivation for strenuous action often demands that issues be cast in sharp black-and-white terms. Indeed, when people see atrocities committed before their eyes on television, they have no desire to think in any terms other than black-and-white.  It remains true, however, that the eventual transcendence and reconciliation that must end the conflict demands, just as much, a rational understanding of the reasons for the conflict.  We need to understand the hatred that has built up within Osama bin Laden and his followers (and countless millions of others within the Islamic world and elsewhere), not to excuse the atrocities that flow from it, but to guide our own conduct in directions that are ultimately constructive from precisely our own point of view.  The United States and "civilized world" is likely to lose in a war of terror if the war has as its enemy a nondescript mass of hundreds of millions of people whom Americans refuse to understand.  As painful as it is to say it, those millions have some valid reasons for hating the United States, and it is in the interest of the United States and of Americans as a people to understand and to act upon that.  To say this is not an apologia for the enemy or a siding with the "hate America crowd" that has long been alienated against  the United States; it is something that must be realized precisely by those who value America most.

 

            Most fateful [at least until recently]: The twentieth-century demonizing of the Germans.

            The most significant demonizing prior to September 11 came against the Germans, starting with World War I. By 1917, Americans had come to see "the Hun" in the blackest tones.  (My mother, who was born in 1907 and grew up in Denver, told me how for years she had nightmares of huge German soldiers rushing past Dutch windmills.) 

            That Americans held such a perception was largely the work of propaganda (a telling commentary, unfortunately, on how subject to manipulation opinion is in a democracy).  After the war, a member of the British parliament, Arthur Ponsonby, wrote a devastating expose of the propaganda.31  He concluded that man's "habit of lying is not nearly so extraordinary as his amazing readiness to believe."  "There is the lie heard and not denied... There is the mistranslation... There is the deliberate forgery... omission of passages... deliberate exaggeration... concealment of truth... the faked photograph."  Both sides worked hard at propaganda, but British and French propaganda most successfully reached American ears.  There was the nurse who died in agony after German soldiers cut her breasts off; the Kaiser was " a lunatic," a "barbarian chief," a "madman," and a "monster"; pictures purported to show a Belgian baby whose hands had been eaten by German soldiers, and a picture was fabricated showing the Kaiser with an axe standing beside a pile of hands; "Deutschland uber Alles" in the German national anthem was mistranslated to suggest a claim to dominate the world; Canadian soldiers were said to have been crucified, pinned to a wall by bayonets; the Germans were reported to have boiled down their own dead soldiers to produce stearine and refined oil; and the list goes on.  Ponsonby says that "stories of German ‘frightfulness' in Belgium were circulated in such numbers as to give ample proof of the abominable cruelty of the German army." 

            Of perhaps the greatest importance to Americans were the lies told about the sinking of the Lusitania, which had 124 Americans on board.  As we have seen, the American public was told that the Lusitania was an unarmed passenger ship carrying no munitions; it wasn't until years later that the truth came out that it was armed and loaded with a cargo of munitions bound for England.32

            The resulting animus became one of the twentieth century's more pivotal factors.  American intervention prevented a stalemate and thereby made possible the Carthaginian peace imposed by the Treaty of Versailles that in turn led on, in what was really a continuation of the first conflict, to Hitler and World War II.  John V. Denson writes that "World War I is like a continental divide for Western civilization... It brought communism to Russia, Nazism to Germany, fascism to Italy and socialism to England."  He quotes historian John Keegan as saying that the war "terminated European dominance of the world."33  Much of this is attributable to the war itself, with its ten million dead; but much was due, too, to the effects  of American intervention.

 

            Loss of perspective. 

            One of the surprising features of the American conviction that Germany under the Kaiser was so utterly befouled is how greatly American opinion lacked perspective, totally forgetting then-recent history going back a mere fifteen years.  If it had not been ignorant of or forgetful about the United States' own conduct in the suppression of the Filipinos' fight for independence, and about the British conduct in the Anglo-Boer War, both of which occurred just fifteen years before World War I began in 1914, American opinion would hardly have been able to generate so powerful a moral self-assurance against a despicable Germany.

            It is worth reviewing briefly both the war in the Philippines and the Anglo-Boer War so that we ourselves have sufficient perspective.  It will show how false the claim to moral purity was by both the United States and Britain, and accordingly how false it was, by comparison, to impute total evil to Germany.  (Again, readers should keep in mind that I mention these things not out of the impulse to "blame America first," but in an attempt to understand the American mind.  If Americans come to see how much our interventions are products of ideology and incomplete understanding, that might lead us to be much more careful, which in turn might make us far less inclined to assume the God-like responsibilities of policing and remaking the world.)

 

            a. Suppression of Philippine independence. 

            The United States' 1898 defeat of Spain in the Philippines proved relatively easy.  What remained, however, was the desire of the Philippine people for independence.  Filipinos had been conducting an active native rebellion against Spain even before the American war with Spain; and they were given to believe that in return for their support of the American effort they would be granted their independence.  It was with that in mind that the forces of Emilio Aguinaldo helped defeat the Spanish in Manila.34  It is a fact of the greatest significance that in a report made much later, after a campaign of total war against the Filipino guerrillas to establish American control, Douglas MacArthur concluded that Aguinaldo had enjoyed the near-unanimous support of the Philippine people.35

            The conflict at first was between regular armies, but even then the American army fought with unusual severity, burning homes and refusing to take prisoners36 (causing General Otis to order the army not to burn houses,[37] an order that was, as it turned out, very short-lived).  The Filipinos were beaten so badly, however, that they soon changed their strategy to guerrilla warfare.38

            It would seem that in most instances a war against irregular forces supported by a civilian population becomes warfare of the most brutal type.  The rest of the war in the Philippines, which continued until 1902, was marked by unremitting atrocities on both sides.  The Filipinos committed a great many "atrocious brutalities" against American soldiers and against Filipinos who collaborated with them, but what is most relevant as we seek perspective about the Germans in World War I is that the American army also indulged in almost inconceivable brutality.  This included torture, the killing of prisoners, an order to kill everyone capable of bearing arms over the age of 10, the burning of towns, and the herding of populations into "reconcentration camps" (a tactic that had outraged the American press when the Spanish had done it in Cuba to suppress the insurrection there before the outbreak of the Spanish-American War).  A Major Waller reported in 1901 that "on the march to Liruan the second column, fifty men, under Captain Bears, in accordance with my orders, destroyed all villages and houses, burning in all one hundred and sixty-five...39  This plan has been explained to the General (Smith), meeting his approval."40  One method of torture to force the disclosure of hidden arms was known as "the water cure."  So much water was forced down a person's throat that he virtually exploded.41

 

            b. The comparable brutalities of the Anglo-Boer War. 

            At about the same time, over a span of 31 months beginning in 1899, an eventual total of 448,000 British troops were employed to defeat the two Boer republics for control of the Transvaal in southern Africa.

             Again, it was a matter of suppressing irregular forces supported by the civilian population; and again it proved extraordinarily difficult, precipitating a war of terror.  The first British commander, Lord Roberts, ordered the destruction of farms and homes as retribution against the civilian population after guerrilla raids on British communications.  As the bitterness escalated, the burning of farms became integral to of Roberts' strategy.42  The second commander, Lord Kitchener, countermanded the order to burn farms, and instead established "camps of refuge," partly as true refuges for non-combatants and partly as detention centers.43  These soon became "camps of concentration" to hold the families of men serving as guerrillas.  It wasn't long before Kitchener himself, frustrated by the nature of a war against irregular forces, "turned to a policy of furious energy," according to G. H. L. LeMay, adopting "what was known as ‘clearing the country' – blowing up or burning the farm buildings, destroying the crops and herding in the livestock.  The inhabitants – mostly women and children – who were captured in these operations were sent to camps."  This was done systematically: "The country would be divided into an innumerable number of squares.  In one after another, the country would be cleared until it could scarcely support life; such Boers as could be found would be rounded up; the process would then be continued to the next square."44  

            LeMay says "the overshadowing event of 1901 was the mortality in the concentration camps... Boers died there in great numbers, largely from diseases such as pneumonia, measles, dysentery and enteric fever.  The Boers estimated that 26,000 died in the camps, the British Blue Books gave the figures as 18,000."  When reports created a sensation in England, they provoked Campbell-Bannerman in London to denounce the "methods of barbarism."45  The war ended when the Boers finally gave up, citing among their reasons starvation and overwhelming force.46

            My purpose in reviewing these episodes has been to show how totally lacking in perspective it was for Americans, in just slightly over a decade, to become persuaded that the Germans were unrivalled "monsters" who had to be fought to "make the world safe for democracy."  The combination of their own self-satisfied moral purity with demonization of the Germans under the Kaiser wasn't based on reality but on skewed perception based in part on an ignorance about their own recent history.

 

Conclusion

            In this book I am not trying to formulate definitive criteria for when the United States and its allies in the "world community" should intervene in the affairs of other peoples.  What we have seen about the ideas that have actuated us gives us reason, however, for humility in place of moral preening, circumspection in place of truculence.  If American interventions are often guided by confused concepts, selective perception and a shallow understanding of events and of other peoples, there may be relatively little intervention that Americans can wisely undertake.  Here, of course, I am speaking of the worldwide interventionism that preceded September 11.  Following that date, the United States is necessarily drawn into strong action.  To point out these things in opposition to a general interventionist policy is not to argue against all the military strength that is needed for defense or to argue that future totalitarian movements must be given unimpeded access to sweep across the world.  That would be to substitute one set of simplistic notions for another.  What is most desperately needed is an end to over-simplification. 

 

 

                                                                   ENDNOTES

 

[1].  The six essays are published together in my book The Dispossession of the American Indian – and Other Key Issues in American History (Washington: Scott-Townsend Publishers, 1995).

[2].  Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, p. 310.

[3].  Valerie M. Hudson, ed., Culture & Foreign Policy (Boulder, Colo.: L. Rienner Publishers, 1997), p. 275.

[4].  Robert Stacy McCain, "The Balkans have a long history of factions and warfare," Washington Times National Weekly Edition, April 5-11, 1999, p. 12.

[5].  Callahan, Unwinnable Wars, p. 59.

[6].  Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, p. 290.

[7].  Noel Malcolm, Kosovo: A Short History (New York: HarperPerennial, 1999), pp. 18-20.

[8].  Callahan, Unwinnable Wars, p. 57.

[9].  Hudson, ed., Culture & Foreign Policy, p. 267.

[10].  Wichita Eagle, December 31, 2000, article entitled "Witches in Mexico cast year-end spells."

[11].  Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997), p. 141.

[12].  Robert H. Jackson in Beyond Westphalia?, pp. 67, 66.

[13].  Callahan, Unwinnable Wars, p. 85, 86, 17, 20.

[14].  At the end of the twentieth century there has been an effort to establish a "Museum for the Victims of Communism" that would be comparable to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., but so far it hasn't come to fruition.

[15].  Don Feder column, Middle American News, August 1999, p. 13.

[16].  Callahan, Unwinnable Wars, p. 175.

[17].  Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, p. 184.

[18].  Praful Bidwai, "Saying No to Another War – US Double Standards on Iraq," The Times of India, February 24, 1998.

[19].  Associated Press report by Kathy Gannon, Wichita Eagle, April 15, 2001, p. 10A.

[20].  Callahan, Unwinnable Wars, p. 24.

[21].  Callahan, Unwinnable Wars, p. 17.

[22].  Column by Cal Thomas, "Powell offers moral equivalency on Israel," Wichita Eagle, April 22, 2001.

[23].  Steven W. Mosher, Hegemon: China's Plan to Dominate Asia and the World (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2000), p. 117.

[24].  Gerard Prunier in Clarke and Herbst, ed.s, Learning From Somalia, p. 144.

[25].  Popovic's view was stated by an associate as reported in the Wichita Eagle, January 16, 2001.

[26].  Insight magazine, "Genocidal Horrors Around the World," August 9, 1999, p. 4.

[27].  Owen made this observation to The Wall Street Journal; it is recounted in the Wichita Eagle, September 28, 2000.

[28].  Huntington, The Clash of Cultures, p. 271.

[29].  Buchanan, A Republic, Not an Empire, p. 153.

[30].  Insight magazine, May 3, 1999, p. 10.

[31].  Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in Wartime: Propaganda Lies of the First World War (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1928).

[32].  All of the items just mentioned are discussed in the reprint of Ponsonby's book by the Institute for Historical Review (Costa Mesa, CA, 1991).

[33].  John V. Denson, ed., The Costs of War, pp. 36, 37.

[34].  Moorfield Storey and Marcial P. Lichauco, The Conquest of the Philippines by the United States, 1898-1925 (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1926), pp. 24-7, 46, 47.

[35].  James A. LeRoy, The Americans in the Philippines (New York: AMS Press, 1914), pp. 201-2.

[36].  Storey and Lichauco, The Conquest of the Philippines, p. 129.

[37].  LeRoy, Americans in the Philippines, p. 10.

[38].  LeRoy, Americans in the Philippines, p. 42.

[39].  It isn't clear from the report whether the 165 refers to houses or to villages – which, of course, would be quite a difference.  Even if it is taken to refer just to houses, however, it illustrates a ferocity against civilians that Americans don't think of in connection with their own military history.

[40].  Storey and Lichauco, The Conquest of the Philippines, p. 144.

[41].  LeRoy, Americans in the Philippines, p. 225.

[42].  G. H. L. LeMay, British Supremacy in South Africa, 1899-1907 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), pp. 85, 86, 88.

[43].  LeMay, British Supremacy, pp. 90, 91.

[44].  LeMay, British Supremacy, pp.96, 99.

[45].  LeMay, British Supremacy, p. 106.

[46].  LeMay, British Supremacy, pp. 152-3.