Monday, December 12, 2016

Robert Kagan and the Fury among Neoconservative Hawks

If you want to read one of the truly hysterical reactions to the election of Donald Trump, read this op-ed in the Washington Post by Robert Kagan.
This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society. “National socialism” was a bundle of contradictions, united chiefly by what, and who, it opposed; fascism in Italy was anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical. Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der F├╝hrer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how. Today, there is Putinism, which also has nothing to do with belief or policy but is about the tough man who single-handedly defends his people against all threats, foreign and domestic.

To understand how such movements take over a democracy, one only has to watch the Republican Party today. These movements play on all the fears, vanities, ambitions and insecurities that make up the human psyche. In democracies, at least for politicians, the only thing that matters is what the voters say they want — vox populi vox Dei. A mass political movement is thus a powerful and, to those who would oppose it, frightening weapon. When controlled and directed by a single leader, it can be aimed at whomever the leader chooses. If someone criticizes or opposes the leader, it doesn’t matter how popular or admired that person has been. He might be a famous war hero, but if the leader derides and ridicules his heroism, the followers laugh and jeer. He might be the highest-ranking elected guardian of the party’s most cherished principles. But if he hesitates to support the leader, he faces political death.
This man has clearly gone off the deep end.  Perhaps the leading neo-conservative foreign policy guru in the United States, Kagan shifts back and forth between the Republican and Democratic Party, depending upon which of their candidates is the most hawkish, especially toward Russia.  In 2008, he supported 'bomb-bomb-bomb' John McCain, and in the 2016, he deserted the Republican Party to become a Democratic supporter of Hillary Clinton, the woman who said about Qaddafi,  'we came, we saw, he died'.

To be this viciously opposed by such a war-monger as Kagan is really a great compliment, actually.  It must mean that you are a peace-maker as heart.  So take heart, DJT!  To be called a fascist or Hitler or tyrant or Napoleon by Robert Kagan, is really a great compliment.

As Oscar Wilde once put it, "you can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies."

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