Friday, October 30, 2009

Of Ross Douthat and Amira Hass

         The New York Times is auditioning for a “conservative” columnist. It tried William Kristol and recently replaced him with Ross Douthat. Douthat’s October 25 op-ed praises Pope Benedict for militantly striving to unite some Christians – the Episcopalians who he is welcoming and the Catholics – to war against Islam in Europe. This Pope says he is “for Western reason” against this supposedly ignoble group (a billion people or so). When George Bush revived the term “crusade” to explain U.S. war against Afghanistan and soon Iraq (and the yearned for invasion, later reduced to bombing) of Iran, even the Times – a viciously pro-War paper at the time, lying about the size of anti-war demonstrations, moving pro-War advocates like Judith Miller and Michael Gordon, given ‘sources” by I. Lewis Libby (Cheney’s assistant) to the front page and pushing sane reporting on Iraq by James Risen and others (competent journalists about the prospect of war) to page A20 – blanched. The Crusades were an ugly period in which the Church of intolerance, burning Jewish teenagers at the stake, sent out the troops to put Muslims and other Christians (the Eastern, non-Roman ones) to the sword and secure wealth. All of this was billed in the Middle Ages as some sort of godly activity. But Muslims (and any one else who knows about the Crusades) might think that President Bush was a crusading bigot. His remark might drive a lot of Arabs and other Muslims to hate the United States and give unnecessary help – through stupidity – to Al-Qaeda. Those who will blow themselves up to harm others are a fairly small number. They are increased, however, if there is a powerful cause with which many sympathize and little is done about it such as the Indian occupation of Kashmir or the Israeli occupation of the territories.  See here.   Knowing facts about either case will make an initially neutral observer weep. Most people however want nothing to do with harming Western innocents by martyring themselves or their children. It is “bad form” for the President to have spoken in this vein, to have aroused justified anger. Even President Bush realized he had been foolish and gave up the term.

           But Pope Benedict has revived Bush’s thought and Douthat praises the Pope. Given the Times’s desire to defend even the irrationality of the government of Israel and thus toleration of Israeli expansion at the expense of Palestinians – the advocacy of greater Israel and the more or less obvious policy of an Israeli government that has illegally “settled” half a million people in the occupied territories – it is what is in common between the Catholic Douthat and the Straussian supporter of Israel, Kristol. But this policy has nothing to do with being a conservative. It is an imperial, authoritarian policy which holds the Palestinians prisoners even during the Gaza attack. It has also has nothing to do with defending the lives and security of ordinary Israelis as American jews increasingly are beginning to see (consider the striking and large J street convention this week).

           Maintream discourse calls reactionaries – authoritarians and imperialists – conservatives. It fails to distinguish between many who opposed Bush-Cheney policies and the leadership of the Republican party and its enablers. Consevatives oppose imperial wars. They are often rightly skeptics about whether any decent values can be enforced at the point of a gun. In the rare case of Nazism and Japanese fascism, the regimes that lost World War II had harmed their own people sufficiently and defeat had been so vast that an occupying America could establish a new democracy in each. For neocon ideologues like Wolfowitz, Kristol, Cheney and Bush, this became a possibility for post-Cold War American policy. They had the big guns. They would bomb others into a new way of life: democracy at gunpoint. They would subdue the Muslims.

            The last Pope John Paul II, to his eternal credit, opposed American aggression in Iraq and spoke of it as representing “a threat to the future of humanity.” He saw that the American way of war was destroying the Middle East.   In our two ways with Iraq, we have poisoned the area with depleted uranium, brought our soldiers back to a future of disease themselves, producing babies without large ears and no arms (similar birth defects occurred in Iraq after the first Gulf War - see John Pilger’s revelatory film “Paying the Price”) and of course, becoming the homeless for the next fifty years. More than in the case of Vietnam where America was still on top economically, the new depression (we still have something near 20% real unemployment) will produce many other homeless people to join them.  Combined with American wars,  global warming and the desertification of land (Steven Chu, Obama’s Nobel Prize winning Secretary of Energy, warned in his Congressional testimony that California might dry out by 2050, no longer produce agricultural goods) are a threat to the existence of humanity on this planet.  Not to mention the issue of clean water... To mitigate an economic and environmental catastrophe and perhaps to provide an alternative to wars, green jobs, as Obama has begun to enact with  the stimulus, are the future of the American economy and of humanity.  About Iraq and the environment, Pope John Paul was a seer. He was also a conservative.

            In contrast, Pope Benedict seeks to launch a new crusade, to gather up the Catholics and Episcopalians.  Deeply concerned to revive the Church militant, he will even accept married priests as long as they go for a Catholicism of fighting Islam. He is a reactionary. Praising the Pope's racist remark on the “Western way of reason,” Douthat says:

          “But in making the opening to Anglicanism, Benedict also may have a deeper conflict in mind — not the parochial Western struggle between conservative and liberal believers, but Christianity’s global encounter with a resurgent Islam.”

          “Here Catholicism and Anglicanism share two fronts. In Europe, both are weakened players, caught between a secular majority and an expanding Muslim population. In Africa, increasingly the real heart of the Anglican Communion, both are facing an entrenched Islamic presence across a fault line running from Nigeria to Sudan.”

          “Where the European encounter is concerned, Pope Benedict has opted for public confrontation. In a controversial 2006 address in Regensburg, Germany, he explicitly challenged Islam’s compatibility with the Western way of reason — and sparked, as if in vindication of his point, a wave of Muslim riots around the world.”

           Note that people being vehemently angry at this Pope’s bigotry coupled with the wars the West (including Israel) is waging in the Middle East, oppressing and murdering Muslims, proves, in Douthat’s mind, that the other is irrational. Try some empathy, Ross. Try remembering – it is a deep point of Jesus’s and the heart of all decency – that every child, Jewish as well as Catholic (there are Palestinian and Lebanese Christians whose children have been sacrificed ) as well as Muslim, is holy. America and Israel and even the U.N. (in the boycott of Iraq which murdered 4500 children a month by U.N. statistics) are willing to sacrifice wantonly large numbers of Arab children compared to Israeli or American or European children.  The calculus of war is not the sacredness of  life.  

          In addition, unsurprisingly in a racist, the Pope’s history is wrong. The supposed reason embodied in Catholicism is belied by the Reconquista (the Catholic reconquest of Southern Europe from the Arabs culminating in 1492). The Arab regime in Cordoba and Granada in Spain had brought civilization to Europe: the number 0 and arabic numerals, the astrolabe with which Columbus sailed the ocean blue (to commit genocide in Hispaniola), tiles, fountains, and romantic poetry. Cordoba had a library of 400,000 books (there were a few hundred in monasteries in Ireland at the time), preserving all the great Greek philosophical and literary works as well as translations of them into Arabic. Thus, the Arabs preserved the heritage of the West (sounds like: "Western reason" but perhaps Douthat is ignorant of this). Science and religion went hand in hand (the discoveries of science revealed the ways of the divine). That, too, is rational compared to, say, the Pope burning Tycho Brahe at the stake or forcing Galileo to recant. Perhaps the greatest innovation of Arab rule was toleration of other "peoples of the Book," Jews and Catholics. Maria Rosa Menocal’s The Ornament of the World beautifully describes that high civilization. In addition, Christian Kings like Alfonso the Wise and Pedro the Cruel copied Arab practices, tolerated Muslims and Jews. But the Pope of the time ruled out such toleration. Columbus was sent from the Alhambra to get gold and murder indigenous people; the Inquisition was launched in Europe. Not Western “reason” but intolerance and the crusades are what came out of the Catholic reconquista. The mirror of words is dangerous. Perhaps the Pope and Mr. Douthat should exhibit more humility.

          Douthat perorates with a denunciation of appeasement (i.e. toleration) and a twisted call with Benedict for war:

          “By contrast, the Church of England’s leadership has opted for conciliation (some would say appeasement), with the Archbishop of Canterbury going so far as to speculate about the inevitability of some kind of sharia law in Britain.”

          “There are an awful lot of Anglicans, in England and Africa alike, who would prefer a leader who takes Benedict’s approach to the Islamic challenge. Now they can have one, if they want him.”

          “This could be the real significance of last week’s invitation. What’s being interpreted, for now, as an intra-Christian skirmish may eventually be remembered as the first step toward a united Anglican-Catholic front — not against liberalism or atheism, but against Christianity’s most enduring and impressive foe.”

          Douthat uses the term liberal mistakenly here. There is nothing liberal or for that matter,  conservative or decent about crusades. They are Western imperialist wars to dominate and plunder. The “appeasers” as he viciously calls them, are those who recognize that most followers of Islam, like those of any other religion, are decent people, who are willing to build a non-aggressive and tolerant society.  Some accomodation of their beliefs - perhaps even some aspects of sharia law, those that do not harm others - might be an aspect.  All hung up on bizarre opposition to contraception and bigotry toward gays and lesbians, this militant Catholic sneers at the harmful religious laws of others.  In the words of a crusader, except perhaps that Douthat deludes himself with the admiring adjective “impressive” – he wants unity for war “against Christianity’s most enduring and impressive foe.” 

          Douthat sets his racism and aggression in the context of European immigration. But Europe, as America, is changing irrevocably. In Europe, however, the immigrants are not Catholics – it is interesting that this Catholic columnist does not notice the cause of Latinos in the U.S. which the Church has often been a leader about – but Muslims. Yet Douthat does not similarly rave about the "dangers" of latin Catholics. He tailors principle to dogma.  

           Douthat gets himself into this reactionary way of thinking by noticing that conscience and spirituality can ground modern decency. It is a way of heading off Satanic secularization (in the words of that Catholic reactionary, Carl Schmitt) or mass society and the last men (Nietzsche, Leo Strauss). Thus, he thinks that Catholicism generates or takes precedence over decency, that decency only comes from his religion and hence what expands his religion must be…

        “Along the way, he’s [the Pope’s] courting both ends of the theological spectrum. In his encyclicals, Benedict has addressed a range of issues — social justice, environmental protection, even erotic love — that are close to the hearts of secular liberals and lukewarm, progressive-minded Christians. But instead of stopping at a place of broad agreement, he has pushed further, trying to persuade his more liberal readers that many of their beliefs actually depend on the West’s Catholic heritage, and make sense only when grounded in a serious religious faith.”

          They do not, particularly in this Pope’s version. John Rawls, the great democratic theorist, speaks in Political Liberalism of an “overlapping consensus” on mutual regard among persons which grounds a decent, democratic society. He means that people of comprehensive religious differences must respect others’ views as long as they do not harm others (crusades or aggressions and occupations are intense harms). Such toleration is the center of a meaningful liberal or constitutional-democracy (see Response to Peter Minowitz 1 here). It governs and grounds – and is turn deepened by conscience (consider Martin Luther King or Thich Nat Hanh or the three Dominican nuns, Ardeth Platte, Jackie Hudson, and Carol Gilbert, jailed three years ago for pouring their blood on the cover of a missile silo in Northern Colorado) and faith. Rawls is right.

          Douthat is a Catholic reactionary. It is sort of sublime – or perhaps fitting material for Monty Python - that the Times printed this praise for the Pope’s call for Catholic –  "Western" - imperialism and closing the borders or further oppressing immigrants, even though such belligerence is, for the Times, sometimes, a matter of skepticism. One would have thought David Brooks’ crass belligerence this morning ("The Tenacity Question," October 29) on Afghanistan would be sufficient, that the Times has more than fulfilled its quota of warmongering and lying  (Brooks talks to anonymous sources, and offers hoary Straussian/neocon chestnuts about Churchill and Lincoln and Obama’s allegedly insufficient backbone; one wonders, too, if Brooks, tenacious here only in neo-colonial stupidity  - ever looks in the mirror  – see Glenn Greenwald here), The Times must be searching high and low to find the right reactionary…

        There is a certain style of John Hagee “greater Israel” fanaticism that does not quite meet the Times’s approval. But there is a way of putting these ideas which is within the Times’ op-ed spectrum. William Kristol, whose politics are the same (self-destructive Israeli  conquest coupled with unending American wars), was auditioned for a year as Douthat is now. The commonality is, once again, a leaning toward “greater Israel” and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry. The Times’s spectrum of op-eds ranges from those who rightly worry about escalation of the American occupation in  Afghanistan given its harms to Americans, say Bob Herbert or Nick Kristof, to those who simply crusade against Muslims, like Douthat. See here. Reporting on what really happens to Palestinians is a bridge too far for the Times. No dissident columnist so far can speak in the pages of the Times what appears in, for example, even Haaretz.

           Recently, Amira Hass received a career award for reporting from the International Women’s Media Foundation. An Israeli, Hass has lived for 20 years in Ramallah and Gaza and written accurately (and therefore tragically) about what is happening to Palestinians in the occupied territories. Women op-ed columnists in the Times tend toward the clever like Maureen Dowd or Gail Collins. They often provide a scathing, very funny and apt voice about political matters, but perhaps (the Times still has a lot of patriarchy) not quite a serious one. If the Times were to print some woman or man with the voice and knowledge of Amira Hass, even a few columns would have great force. Just how does one explain 300 children dead in Gaza, 1 Israeli 7 year old murdered by Hamas? Why is it that even the Goldstone report (which does not criticize Israeli occupation of the territories) is not reported on in the Times or taken seriously? Just how does one explain all the Israeli provocations to break the cease fire and when Hamas responds viciously but weakly, how Hamas gets blamed for breaking the cease fire in the American press? Perhaps the explanation is that “Western way of reason” that Pope Benedict refers to, thouItalicgh Catholics historically and even the last Pope, emphasized that self-defense against aggression – and self-defense against murder – are at the core of Catholic and “Western” - a racist term in this context, cf. Edward Said's Orientalism - rationality ( I should note: Michael Walzer was my teacher; inter alia, I write and teach about justice in war; see Democratic Individuality, ch. 1). It is also Gandhi’s view: one resists aggression through nonviolent noncooperation. One must protect the innocent. It seems that by the standards of what is great in Catholicism or just rationality and decency, this Pope and Ross Douthat are reactionaries. They have turned away.

            Hass is an Israeli journalist. She writes in Haaretz. She is the author of a fine book Drinking the Sea at Gaza (Metropolitan Books, 1999). She has suffered for the truth with and among the Palestinians.  It would be nice if all the news “fit to print” could include, once in a while, the words of a reporter (or op-ed columnist) like her. Here are the words of an editorial in the Guardian, October 24, 2009:

                                                 In praise of… Amira Hass

             Only Amira Hass could have received the International Women's Media Foundation lifetime achievement award by saying her life as a journalist had been a failure. By her standards maybe, but then she sets them high. If her aim is to stop successive Israeli governments lying about what they do in the occupied territories, then it is true that the language laundromat, as she once put it, keeps on turning. But make no mistake, the Haaretz columnist fully deserves this award. She is the only Israeli journalist to have lived in and reported from Gaza and Ramallah for much of the last two decades. In describing the effects of the occupation on the lives of Palestinians, she has been pilloried by Israelis and fallen foul of Hamas. Her moral anchor is firmly rooted in painful collective memories. Her mother survived a concentration camp and her father the ghettos of Romania and Ukraine. "What luck my parents are dead," Hass wrote at the height of the Gaza operation in January. Her parents could not stand the noise of Israeli jet fighters flying over the Palestinian refugee camps in 1982, and nor could they have tolerated going about their daily chores in Tel Aviv with the knowledge of what was going on in their name in Gaza: "They knew what it meant to close people behind barbed-wire fences in a small area." Only a Jew can invert the "never again" logic of the Holocaust that is used to justify Israel's least justifiable actions. It is that very experience, Hass argues, that should teach Israel to behave differently.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Poem: three



every child ofOran

           and Arlington


under satincaps    under shawls and vanished


          ashes of an ice



every child of Oran

            and the gray stacks of Mauthausen


                     is a gift among strangers


for a sister or brother

       breathes back against the cold

                        under the fingers on the pane


or turns as the heat vibrates

     vertebrae of the dust


                        to walk a path no









       conason, son of cohen, kahn

       gaylbart, gailbord, gilbert

       epstein, easton


                                 (and now) epstein


daughters translate beards

                  of shtetls





             rings the thin hands of the twofingered


             wounded in 1905


Nora seller of fancy hats



                       underground of



               in the longuniform of New Guinea

                    wraps tiger





the song of Solomon

      over the Vitepsk of Central





     in the shadows

         the loquacious





             Yah weh

                      demand proofs


                         to emptiness


                                    to slit a son’s throat

                                         for a sudden


                                    or turn a woman

                                         to pillared


I honor slave emancipation

   but no longer worship warrior



yet of quiet December evenings

     watch the shadows play along the wall


                 and the sway of pine branches

                       under cold wind


                                 as the breath of darkness

                                      wounds the warrior



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Political "Science" and American aggressions, part 2


       Ido Oren has written a striking book on the history of political science, Our Enemies and US: America’s Enemies and the Making of Poltical Science (h/t Amentahru Wahlrab for bringing it to my attention and to Jim Farr and Terry Ball whose advice and work play an important role in Oren’s account).   As a serious mathematical political scientist, Oren became troubled by the closeness of political science to empire, or at least to being defined by shifting American enemies.  Not making this distinction sharply – between things that are really objectionable as opposed to remarkable and inconsistent ideological shifts in the light of what might be thought to be dangerous enemies – is a weakness of his book.  Nonetheless, as Oren himself exemplifies,  political scientists from below often resist the bellicose tendencies among the powerful and “privileged” (those at leading universities; funded for group projects by the defense and intelligence establishment, often covertly; cycling  in and out of government as advisors or thinktank “experts”) in the field.  The paradigm of the “democratic peace” and “powerful pacifists” argument is World War I and World War II in which the democracies line up against absolutist Germany (see the previous post here).  The Kaiser in World War I, Hitler in World War II.  Of course the Soviet Union won World War II against Germany (the US and Britain neither took the brunt of Nazi ferocity nor showed up in Europe until the Nazis were fleeing back to Germany and they could race Russia for post-war control there).  See Josef Korbel, Stalin and the defense of Czech democracy here.  But at least these examples make the assertion seem to most readers initially plausible.  

        Oren emphasizes, however, that for prominent pre-World War I political scientists like John Burgess and Woodrow Wilson, Germany was, in their racist idiom, a “Teutonic” or “Aryan” democracy. I will give some of his evidence below.  But first,  anyone who knows any German history before World War I will see that R.J. Rummel’s quantification of it as an autocracy is, on his own premises, mistaken.  For instance, the Prussian state had elections for the Reichstag (parliament) in which a Social Democratic party grew rapidly between 1890 and 1914.  Before World War I, Germany was the great test case for worker or socialist influence through parliament and many Marxists like Karl Kautsky came to hope ultimately for the victory of a solely electoral socialism (during World War I, except for Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the SPD’s internationalism was temporarily vanquished by obsequiousness in Prussian militarism – comparable to the militarism of leading Democrats in our time).  That the political “science” of the inter-democratic peace hypothesis and David Lake’s “powerful pacifism”  writes off this decisive (for the whole fate of socialism, the Russian Revolution, and the world) experience by giving Prussia a number – the number one autocracy – is ideological rigidity or ignorance.  Second, more than 10% of the German population voted - the criterion for a democracy along with at least two party competition is the Rummel/Dimension of Nations operationalization which generates David Lake’s table (see here).  By Rummel’s and Lake’s standard,  Germany is not only a constitutional monarchy; it is a democracy as much as the United Kingdom (also, famously a monarchy with parliamentary elections).

         Third, as Oren stresses, John W. Burgess, the founder of the first graduate political science program in the United States at Columbia, and Woodrow Wilson particularly admired “Teutonic” or “Aryan” constitutionalism and democracy. Ironically, Wilson shifted as President of the United States to “making the world safe for democracy” against “the Hun.”  But on their thoughts (as opposed to Wilson’s World War I propaganda), World War I pitted democracy against democracy.  

         Burgess studied at Amherst and went to Germany for a Ph.D.  (American universities copied German education as much as English). In his first text book, he defined a nation on a racial basis.   “A population of an ethnic unity, inhabiting a territory of a a geographic unity, is a nation.” (Oren, p. 28).  He spoke of the superiority of the Teutonic peoples, the “Anglo Americans , the Germans and Scandinavians [who] do not yet mingle their blood completely.” (28).  He found American and Germany the most advanced  “Teutonic popular democratic states.” (29).   

       Woodrow Wilson was a political scientist and became the sixth President of the American Political Science Association.  “One should not study," he argued “the ‘savage’ traditions of defeated ‘primitive’ groups, but rather the contributions of the ‘survived fittest,’ primarily the groups comprising the Aryan race.” (Oren, p.  35).  Wilson hated the French Revolution, popular movements and France (he bellowed that the French were not ready for democracy).  All of this anti-democratic hatred stemmed from his disdain for and fear of blacks and other nonwhite peoples.  His evaluation of polities, including France, was racial (he celebrated the “Aryans” at the expense of the “Latins”).  Like later political science, he wanted a safe regime – in the hands of “responsible” experts and bureaucracy – one for which elections are not so important (in the more modern anti-democratic, political “science” refrain, “working class authoritarians” including black folks should be excluded from influencing policy).  

        Wilson had noble ideas about collective security.  Yet he also affirmed the Ku Klux Klan. He wrote against Reconstruction, the one period of poor black and white representation in the South and decent educational policies there until after the Civil Rights movement; in 1919, he showed D.W. Griffiths’ “Birth of a Nation” at the White House after it had been shut down in anti-racist Boston.  In Griffiths' film, the "Christian" Klan,  their white sheets flowing in the breeze,  come riding to the rescue, cut back and forth in montage, a film technique Griffiths invented,  with the panic of the Northern carpetbaggers’ daughter, the blacks about to commit an act of Rassenschaende…only the Nazi film “Jude suess” has a like depravity.  Wilson was also an aggressor in many Caribbean and Central American countries, overthrowing the democracy in Haiti in 1916 and installing a clerk in an American mining company to run Nicaragua in 1913  (the predecessor to the American-sponsored Somoza dictatorship). Wilson was very interested in the German bureaucracy (what he regarded as the central ingredient in acceptable “democracy”) and extolled its “Aryan” character.”  Ignoring for a moment their  grotesque racism, however, Wilson and Burgess had a  more intelligent and knowledgeable view of World War I Germany than its current stereotype in the “democratic peace” or “powerful pacifists” literature.  Germany then was a stable and constitutional democracy (if one with a strong executive in foreign policy). 

          Once one sees this reality, even beyond the enormous weaknesses in David Lake’s list of “democratic” wars, the inter-democratic peace hypothesis is dramatically weakened.  Arguably after World War II, there was a zone of peace encompassing economically advanced oligarchies with parliamentary forms (there are odd cases like American-sponsored oligarchic Greek repression of a Communist led resistance movement from below).  Non-white democracies, however, are often attacked by the United States and America is also the great sustainer of  reactionary dictatorships against their own people (the opposite of a common good or a democracy or Kant’s vision).  Democracy and international law and the rule of law have also been dramatically undermined, throughout Europe, by the Bush-Cheney administration’s torture and kidnapping policies (along with covert cooperation by local intelligence services).  It remains to be seen whether, in the Obama era, the damage done to the rule of law – to democracy as regimes which affirm basic individual rights like habeas corpus – can be repaired (James Bohman rightly stresses this point, see here).   What is decent in democracy and peace arising between democracies is frail.   Thus, a serious democratic peace thesis would need to be qualified sharply – as an aspiration for change, not a fact about existing oligarchies with parliamentary forms, particularly the American.

            In addition, as Oren reveals,  the surprises in the history of  political “science” are greater than this.  No one can intelligibly call the Nazis a democratic regime.  Nonetheless, initially, political scientists were highly favorable to it.  The American Political Science Review, edited by Frederic Ogg of the University of Wisconsin from 1926-49, published a 1931 article by Kate Pinsdorf – a rare article at the time for a woman given the sexism of the profession.  Ogg was quite determined to salvage the Nazis’ reputation even before the Machtergreifung (the Nazi seizure of power).  One wonders how such unique partisanship for a dissident movement from below – did the APSR run an article on the German communist and social-democratic opposition to Hitler at the time? Or (after Ogg's tenure), on SNCC canvassing in the South?, etc. – comports with grave pronouncements about “value-freedom” (Perhaps Ogg did not know about "value-neutrality,"  though what “science” means in any of this might escape a student of the natural sciences or philosophy of science or any one who tries to follow argument…).  Pinsdorf sought, according to Oren,

           “to dispel the ‘contradictory and confused ideas that are current’ about the Nazi Party.  Hitler’s ‘extreme dislike of all Jews’ could be ‘explained’ by the fact that ‘in Vienna he came in contact with the worst representatives of the Jewish race, i.e., Eastern Galician Jews.’  Indeed, “during the past winter the National Socialist writings were directed rather against the Eastern Galician Jews who had entered Germany since 1914 than against the Jews generally.  In this fact, we may detect a tendency toward a revision of the sweeping indictment of all Jews as such.’ Pinsdorf thus indirectly condoned the persecution of Jews, so long as it was limited to the ‘worst’ element among them.” [Oren p. 51]

        As we have seen with Leo Strauss and Jacob Klein (see “They consider me a ‘Nazi’ here – Leo Strauss, December 3, 1933”  here), the stigmatization of Eastern Jews and the hope to assimilate into Germany was characteristic of many middle class Ashkenazi – even though to support a National Revolution was a rarer feature of a small group of  reactionary – Nietzschean - Jewish intellectuals.  Of German origin, Pinsdorf was Brazilian (or upper class, racist Brazilian).

         Oren adds: “Pinsdorf relied exclusively on Nazi sources and dwelled repeatedly on the Nazi movements ‘idealistic enthusiasm and spirit of sacrifice.’”  Oh, that beating up of opponents, oh, those dreams of world conquest, oh, those (still only yearned for) gas chambers…Only Mel Brooks could deal adequately with “science” in relation to such material.

        As I have emphasized, Max Weber was a heroic opponent of anti-semitism here.  But a political “science” influenced by Weber is a post World War II phenomenon.  In addition, Oren makes out Weber to be too much of an opponent of bureaucratic-rational authority.  The latter is but a means. Substantive rationality would have to account for the ends (Weber does not speak explicitly to this), and these may be in fact genocidal rather than in any sense rational (Herbert Marcuse developed this as a theme in "Industrialization and Capitalism" in the New Left Review, March-April 1965).  If one wants to see why some find the claim of a "value free" social science (with regard to ends or what social science research discovers) facile and false, consider the genocide.  Yes, one must eschew prejudice in examining it, but what one discovers is still horror.  Bertolt Brecht once made a joke about a post-World War I mass murderer who stewed his corpses and turned them into fancy potted meat for sale on the black market (it was the inflation, after all).  He had, Brecht said, “German conscientiousness, far-sightedness, efficiency and industry.”  Brecht wondered that Germany did not give him a prize instead of a death sentence.  

        Brecht’s retelling of this dark story prefigures the horrors of the camps for Jews, Slavs, communists, union leaders, Roma, “defective Aryan children,” mental patients and others.  Oren somehow misses this point.  But the practice of formally calculated genocide and the manic cleansing of clothes and stripping the gold from the teeth and recycling every usable object from the corpses to be provided to German civilians during the war captures the ghoulish madness of Nazism, which haunts German to this day, will take ages to heal.  See Poem: Carmelites  here.   (I think America which had slavery and genocide toward indigenous people, inter alia, is at least as troubled).   As Oren does not recognize, the reason that public administration fell into discredit after World War II is not political taboos at looking at Germany; it is a sense by most of us – only a faint sense I am afraid – of the “rational” horror of the genocides.

       Up to 1939,  as Oren relates, praise for Adolf Hitler and more than a whiff of anti-semitism emanates from political science.  In 1934, The American Political Science Review under Ogg celebrated an abridged version of  Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  FDR had read it and saw immediately through the abridgment; privileged Americans - "the malefactors of great wealth" and their abettors hated FDR and admired fascism (the Fox News, Rush Limbaughs and tea-baggers of their day). The APSR leaned toward the latter.  Thus, the review by Karl F. Geiser, a member and for many years chair of the political science at Oberlin, gave little sense of Hitler’s lethal anti-semitism or of his world-conquering aims (a repeat of world war with a different outcome). Geiser wrote that the translator:

         has given a very fair picture of Hitler in all of his ranges; he has included his worst characteristics, among them his inordinate intolerance of the Jews, and also his most enlightened comments on the theory of the state and the nature of government, such as ‘human rights are above state rights’ and ‘the best form of state is that which, with natural sureness of hand, raises the best brains of the community to a position of leadership and predominant influence.’ (Oren, p. 85)

       In the same review, Geiser praised another book which celebrated the Nazis as “’idealists’ engaged in ‘an experiment in national planning’ and which suggested that if ‘Germany should succeed in establishing a new type of social and economic order which may help to overcome the present state of poverty in the midst of plenty, the end might justify the means.’” As Oren has also discovered, Geiser sent Rolf Hochmann, deputy foreign press director of the Nazi Party a letter signed with the Nazi salute – “German greetings” – which Hochmann  forwarded to Rudolf Hess’s office as testimony to the success of Nazi propaganda in America.  Of course, if one writes the regime’s press flak a politically friendly letter, this by itself is suggestive, even if Geiser had warbled “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as a parting flourish  As reported by the APSR in notes on the profession, Geiser retired in Berlin, lecturing at the Hochschule fuer Politik. It did not note the rare distinction Geiser had achieved since Jews and “moderates” were long gone from these centers of "learning" (in 1904 Prussia fired a Social Democratic physics professor; the "rational" bureaucracy had long attempted to enforce a political range from extreme right - though not able to avow Nazis until the Machtergreifung - to middle right.  The Nazis just further developed that “rationality.” (Oren, p. 85)

       Even the famous Carl Friedrich, later author of the post-War Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy condemning Fascisms and Communisms as an ostensibly unique, expansionary phenomenon (and omitting American segregation which was far nearer kin to the Nazis) was once favorable to fascist imperialisms.  In 1928, he sympathized with Mussolini’s desire “to conquer the place which is due her in view of her culture and intellectual attainment.”  Mare Nostrum, including Ethiopia – Carl had at least the normal racism for a rising star in the political “science” of that time.  In the February 1933 issue of the APSR, Oren adds, Friedrich sought to moderated an author's "harsh" verdict on Hitler: “’The book produces a decidedly real impression of the man’s character and personality, although a comparison with other popular leaders would perhaps have led the author to a kinder judgment.’” Just which popular leaders (the newly elected FDR?) does Friedrich have in mind? (Oren, p. 83)

         To his credit, Friedrich recanted about Nazism in 1937.  Unlike Leo Strauss who practiced hidden writing - and whose surface views, by his own account of such writing, are thus not to be taken seriously if repeated 10 times while his esoteric affections are hinted at but once or twice – h/t Will Altman -  and whose political views, except for external public consumption or appearance, may not have changed fundamentally,  Friedrich’s politics in the United States clearly shifted.  Of course, the odd thing about Leo’s affections is that he was a Jew.     

         Oren also specifies the funding of quantitative political studies, which underpin David Lake’s table and “Powerful Pacifists” thesis (see here), by ARPA -  the Advanced Research Projects Agency - in  the Pentagon  and the CIA.  The Pentagon, for example, paid for Rummel’s Dimensionality of Nations Study which contains the “data” on which the democratic peace hypothesis and the tale of “powerful pacifists” are built (see Rummel’s elliptical report of the project at pp. 116-17 of Richard Merritt and Stein Rokkan, eds., Comparing Nations: the Use of Quantitative Data in Cross-National Research).  As Oren puts it, behavioral social science did not intend to seek the truth; it aimed instead to “contribute to winning the Cold War””

         “Launched in 1962 by Harold Guetzkow at Northwestern University (later directed by Rudolph Rummel), the Dimensionality of Nations (DON) project was funded to the tune of $1.2 million, largely from the NSF and ARPA.  The Yale political scientist Bruce Russett received $330,000 from the NSF in 1964 and $353,0000 from ARPA in 1967.”  Though in self-conception “value-free” and under no obligation to spell out the implications of his project for democracy or the common good of citizens, Russett was under contractual obligation (not to say hope for future funding) to spell out its benefits to the Pentagon (Political “science” and leading Democrats have comparable foibles).   But Russett does strive for the most “value free” or obsequious language: “In his reports to ARPA, under the heading DOD [Department of “Defense”] implications, Russett wrote that the program’s aims were to `investigate and test quantitative techniques which can be employed to assess the problem forms of conflict and cooperation among nations.’”    As we can see from Lake’s “powerful pacifist” argument, the “problem forms” do not include aggressions, occupations or torture launched by the United States or its allies.  Self-contradictory protests about value-freedom, however,  do not conceal the advocacy under the bizarre name of “pacifism” of repulsively immoral and illegal projects.

          After the Cold War, Russett has become a leading exponent of the “democratic peace” hypothesis. (Michael Doyle once courageously defended a Kantian thesis during the Cold War in Philosophy and Public Affairs when other international relations specialists would not go near it.)  When realists pointed to 6 American coups against elected governments, however, Russett commendably talked about this in Governing the Sword .  Yet as I note in Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?,

       “Though [Russett’s] criteria for democracy do not require maintenance of a ‘free market,’ he implausibly suggests that, say, an elected Guatemalan regime’s nationalization of the United Fruit Company disqualifies it: ‘The target governments could plausibly be seen [by U.S. policymakers] as unstably democratic with a leader either unwilling or unable to resist radical pressures for reform employing authoritarian methods.’  Now Russett celebrates the American public’s resistance to ‘overt’ wars.  Yet ‘covert’ overturning of parliamentary regimes apparently does not qualify the U.S. government as ‘unstably democratic’ nor does this pattern of belligerence present, for Russett, an anomaly for ‘democratic peace.’  Since even he concludes on a critical note, however, it may simply not have occurred to him to apply his criteria to the American executive:"

       "‘Whatever legal and moral responsibility the U.S. government bears for these acts [covert overthrows of democratically elected regimes] must not obscure the fact that American military units did not fight in an organized fashion in any of these cases.  These were covert and American participation could be denied with varying degrees of plausibility.  The Nicaraguan operation – the most protracted, expensive and bloody [sic –the coup against Sukarno in Indonesia resulted in the slaughter of at least half a million people] of the group – illustrates the point most closely.  These operations were covert, and denied, because as overt activities, support for them in the US political system would have been dubious at best…The constraints could and did prevent an interstate war, but could  not preserve the United States from deep culpability in initiating and sustaining one side in a formally ‘civil war.’'"

          "Like other proponents of ‘democratic peace’ Russett also disregards the deeper pattern of US aggression against ordinary people in the less developed countries.  For example, he might have considered the correlations suggested by Chomsky and Hermann’s table presenting post-World War II US military and police aid to regimes that practice torture.  This evidence would have strengthened his point about democratic peace as a concern of most citizens rather than an often bellicose elite.” (Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy, pp. 10-11).

          Kant’s initial thesis emphasizes the frivolous waste by kings of the lives and subsistence of subjects in the “pleasure party of war.“  It suggests that modern republics would enfranchise and empower citizens and limit such wars.  (Kant’s thesis relies on the sadly erroneous view that modern commerce would provide sufficiently egalitarian conditions to underpin equal liberty - that the rich could not dominate the government and make it an oligarchy with parliamentary forms rather than a common good sustaining democracy).   A Kantian thesis is probably right if there are conditions for genuine democracy.  In Law of Peoples (pp. 46-50), John Rawls gives several conditions for such an ideal democracy, one which would prevent oligarchy, facilitate the influence of ordinary people, and check aggressive American wars.  I offer other such  conditions in Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy, ch. 5, “New Institutions for Peace and Democracy” in Sir Nicholas Kittrie, Sir James R. Mancham and H.E. Rodrigo Carazo Odio, eds., The Future of Peace in the Twenty-First Century, 2002, and “What’s wrong with the democratic peace hypothesis?” here).  When not operationalized to eliminate post-World War II American overthrows of a dozen or so democratically elected nonwhite regimes – all counted as interventions, and hence magically America is somehow not bellicose toward other democracies - there are some important merits in a cautious, well-stated democratic peace hypothesis.   

         In contrast, the political “science” version of this hypothesis found its way into the mouths of Presidents Clinton and Bush.  The latter overthrew the elected government in Haiti (Aristide’s regime had no army; that must be proof of its potential bellicosity…) and supported the unsuccessful 2002 coup against President Chavez of Venezuela.  In not supporting the American influenced coup in Honduras (for instance, the officers were all trained by the School of the Americas, see here), the Obama administration has thus taken a modest step in the direction of honoring nonwhite elected governments.

       As Oren also relates, calling upon the military and academic elite to maintain secretive ties, Russett  enunciates a vision of cooperative war-making at the expense of truth.  The Pentagon and certain prestigious professors should

        “maintain and strengthen our links with the broader society.  One small instance of these links is the contact between scholars and soldiers both at military institutions and at civilian universities. Neither those who expelled ROTC from the universities nor those who in pique, then forbade military officers to attend those universities served their society well. “ (Oren, 170).

Note that the issues are not the same.  Military officers attending serious universities is  a good thing.  It may further thinking – exposure to facts and clashing theories – and is democratic or at least potentially advances democracy.  Knowing the costs, lower officers, ones not consumed with promotion that occurs only through wars and “body-counts,” are often more skeptical than policy-influential academics of military adventures.  See Andrew Bacevich's striking Frontline interview here.   In contrast, training officers for imperial wars (or apologizing for American aggressions and occupations abroad, as ROTC curricula standardly do) is not a good thing.

         Oren also invokes Samuel P. Huntington, the Harvard political scientist and Democrat (Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, and author of Carter’s 1976 campaign speech on human rights).  As a political “scientist,” Huntington is a less data-constrained reactionary than Russett or Lake, however. Protest against him occurred, among other times, in 1985-86 when “newspaper reports revealed that the CIA had secretly financed two scholarly publications by Harvard political scientists: an article on ‘Dead Dictators and Rioting Mobs” – the hatred of democracy from below as in the “democratic distemper” is Huntington’s idée fixe – co-authored by Huntington, and a book on Saudi Arabia authored by Nadav Safran…A resolution condemning Safran’s actions was passed by a vote of 193 to 8 at the 1985 conference of the Middle East Studies Association.”  (Oren, pp. 168-70)  That the American Political Science Association said nothing is notable. 

          Safran had convened a conference at Harvard with many Middle East academics.  When his covert CIA status came out, many were outraged since attending a conference with him might suggest that they, too, were actual or potential CIA recruits.  American secrecy poisons everything it touches.  During the Vietnam War, Hans Morganthau wrote powerfully of the CIA’s secret employment of the Presidents of the National Student Association.  He suggested that Lyndon Johnson’s “pseudo-totalitarianism” drew down on the United States all the opprobrium of totalitarianism, but without any of the benefits – to the leader - of the real thing.  Morganthau stood up for democracy (see Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?, ch. 2).

          Huntington  became President of the American Political Science Association at that very time (1986-87).   Given that working for the CIA covertly and being President of the Association did not disturb its executive, no resolution was submitted condemning the government’s or Huntington’s deceit.  Writing in 2003, Oren comments “the norm [against secretly being on the payroll of the U.S. government, an agent not an intellectual], often observed in the breach appears to have evaporated since the end of the Cold War.”  Oren speaks of the caucus for a new political science and movements from below in the association, during the Cold War and after, which are troubled by scientific pretensions linked to apologies for the worst in the American government (Dr. Strangelove seems to generate ever new avatars among policy-experts...).  But Oren could not yet realize that sanity and use of their eyes among CIA people would be heavily penalized during the Bush administration;  to tell the truth about facts on the ground was to make the CIA for Rumsfeld’s and Cheney’s Pentagon, “dangerous enemy territory.”  One mercy of the election of Barack Obama is that we have now returned to a more normal CIA-academic- think-tank “expert” corruption.

       In contrast to the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association leadership willingly associated itself with torture.  Behavioral psychologists were part of the CIA teams of torturers  and committed war crimes. But torture does not get useful information; it gets only what the torturer wants to hear – see here.   The “psychology” of these “professionals” (professional torturers might be an appropriate term although torture is in fact, the opposite of intelligence gathering) thus differs from the FBI agent Ali Soufan who got important information from Abu Zubaydah – identifying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -without employing torture (see here).  Only an admirable  revolt from below in the American Psychological Association has limited this degradation.  One might say to oneself as a political scientist: surely we are better than that.  We can feel proud of our discipline’s “healthy mien” (in "Political Theory as a Vocation," Sheldon Wolin once cited this phrase from a  well-known political scientist).

       Recalling the last post here however, the recent aggression of America and Great Britain in Iraq would be listed in David Lake’s chart as the war of two democracies against an autocracy.  Never mind that the US and Britain armed Saddam to the teeth, before the falling out in 1989.  Torture by the United States  – that, too, vanishes in this quantitative table of wars just  as in the Spanish-American War of 1898 where the  US  seized the Philippines and slaughtered large numbers of innocents.  Fortunately, political scientists are more useful for voting studies historically or in becoming pollsters for politicians than in overseeing torture.  We have so far been spared the degradation of the American Psychological Association. And yet some political “scientists” have also made themselves useful in advising counterinsurgency. “Democratic Peace,” “Powerful Pacifists” -  political "science" is not only not value-free, but in questions of ethics, has sometimes provided a cover for government crimes of war and crimes against democracy.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

A tale of "powerful pacifists": empire and "political science" part 1

        As an offshoot of the “inter-democratic peace hypothesis,” David Lake, a well known political scientist at UCLA and UC San Diego, published “Powerful Pacifists” in the American Political Science Review in March, 1992 here. Lake offers  a “microeconomic” account of the wars waged between absolutist regimes and a putative contrast to the assertion that democracies must be mutually peace seeking.  Following neoclassical economics as a talisman for political “science,” states are re-conceived as “firms” in which absolutists can secure imperial rents to the state itself by attacking other states.  Democracies supposedly receive no such rents.  For this political science, the “military industrial” complex warned of by President Eisenhower coupled with Morgenthau’s  “academic-political complex” to which I have added media and reactionary think tank experts, however behemoth-like in American life,  or “militarism” as Martin King simply and rightly named it as an evil of “my government, the most violent in the world” in his speech breaking with the Vietnam war at the Riverside Church on April 4, 1967  - has magically disappeared.

         Democracies, Lake says,  at least do not go to war with one another.  But according to Lake, democracies are also suddenly like the 95 pound weakling who with lifting weights (producing most of the world’s weapons, marketing them to many governments to stir war or occupy others or oppress their own people) becomes muscular on the beach, beats up bullies and wins “the girl.”  Democracies take out absolutists in wars.   In an oxymoronic vein, they are “powerful pacifists.”*  All those weapons in World War II and Vietnam and now are really just directed against bad guys (our leaders could not sometimes be mere voices of the weapons, bad guys ourselves, looking for endless wars to engage in or escalate for the sake of producing – more weapons, more war; consider Condi Rice’s National Security Strategy of the United States in 2003 which asserts that the US will allow no power to gain weapons to rival us as the USSR did  – how exactly are we going to do that? – or the Bush-Cheney claim that outer space is for American to point weapons at others).  Though Lake’s  political science, as he conceives it, purports to be  value-free, he really means: democratic states do not commit aggression against other democracies.  They fight only aggressors.  Democracies are good.  And they don’t seek rents at the expense of their people to boot. 

         In contrast, absolutists – arch-criminal rent-seekers one might say (one has to master the pseudo-economic jargon here) do rob their own people.  Yet Lake thinks he  is being “scientific” and “value-free” even though he thus contradicts the government values enshrined on the surface of his article, the strident advocacy of our regime against theirs.  A neocon speechwriter for Bush like Michael Gerson might be thrilled at the pseudoscientific shine a Lake gives to his words.  Gerson wrote a speech for Bush in India about King and Gandhi, one sadly connected to facilitating India’s production of nuclear weapons vis-à-vis Pakistan (deeds that were the opposite of Bush’s words). Perhaps Obama, who knows about Gandhi and King, might actually like such words; he is thoughtful and moves in a different direction, but even a President who can recognize “dumb wars” like Iraq and worry about Afghanistan may need a rationale for the Imperial way of war  (Of course, no mainstream politician can use the word pacifist even with a muscular adjective without being crucified by the opposition and the media; the Democrats are sometimes critical of the war in Iraq – though prominent ones like Hillary Clinton urged that war when it counted – but they must be “real men,” prepared to escalate the war in Afghanistan.  At least and I must say uniquely,  Obama is worrying about it – see here). 

          Lake’s article provides new clothes to the empire via supposedly value-neutral political science.  But if this is neutrality, what is cheerleading?  If this is not political “science” as the advocacy of American wars, what would be?  This article has since been taken up in several other political science studies, for instance,  Dan Reiter and Alan Stam, “Understanding Victory: Why Political Institutions Matters,” International Security, summer, 2003.  Combined with the democratic peace hypothesis, there  is almost what Imre Lakatos calls a research program here (a follower of Karl Popper who argues, however,  that such programs are very hard to falsify).  Within the discipline, Lake’s thesis  has apparently received little criticism and that mainly on technical grounds.  But aside from political corruption, this is a research program whose implausibilities are on the surface.

        Lake takes political science seriously enough to provide a revealing table at the end of his article about the wars of democracies against absolutism.  The table revealingly puts the democracies in bold letters, the absolutists in lower case.  There are only 30 cases.  But an historian might have trouble with the list.

          The first entry is the “US v.  Mexico in 1846-1848.”  “Remember the Alamo,” burble the powerful pacifists.  But President Polk provoked the conflict and seized a very large part of Mexico.  I am in a part of Colorado that the US did not take, although it seized Southern Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California….It is good to know that this war of aggression and conquest is really somehow the triumph of democracy against absolutism.  Even for a theory of the absence of democratic “rents,” it does seem like quite a lot - the two largest states in the U.S. and several others.   (One might also think of the later interventions in Mexico of that other powerful ‘pacifist’ Woodrow Wilson though of course they did not produce quite as much “rents” for America and the US did not lose a thousand troops.  To be viewed as a war on this "operationalism," a thousand soldiers must die on each side;  the 12 to 15 Ameican overthrows of nonwhite elected governments during and after the Cold War vanish, by unseemly methodological sleight of hand. The US isn’t bellicose toward democracy except Arbenz, Mossadegh, Goulart, Allende, Jagan, Sukarno, Aristide twice, Ortega, Chavez, Lumumba - an assassination in the Congo, etc., etc.).

       As a Congressman, Abraham Lincoln of lllinois nobly opposed aggression against Mexico.  In opening his famous essay on “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau speaks of how a standing government will war unjust wars like the seizure of a large part of Mexico. Thoreau was on to machine-like American expansion and war-making 150 years ago.  It is not a mystery.   A standing government he names it  – that sounds like a “rent-seeking” government.  But Lake’s political science knows nothing of American political discourse or the history of these events.  He relies on some graduate student to have given numbers to “democracies” and “absolutisms” engaged in wars in a study paid for by the Pentagon (more on this in the next post)…

       Defending spying on Americans and torture (worse than rent-seeking, though Cheney is also known for that), Harvey Mansfield, the  reactionary follower at Harvard of Leo Strauss, advocated tyranny or commander in chief power in emergencies on the Wall Street Journal Opinion page in 2006 here.  All manly (no 95 pound weakling), Harvey sniffed: to take the opponents of commander-in-chief power seriously – those who believe in the separation of powers and the separation of church and state (once again never mentioned by Strauss despite his preoccupation with “the theological-political predicament” see here), Mansfield would have to reconsider carefully and “prayerfully” about giving at least some of  that territory back to Mexico (perhaps Harvey forgets the historical details):  "As to the contention that a strong executive prompts a policy of imperialism, I would admit the possibility, and I promise to think carefully and prayerfully about returning Texas to Mexico."  And who could think something like that?  Well, Lincoln (the hero of some of Strauss’s followers but mainly for abolishing habeas corpus in wartime – advancing tyrannical “commander-in- chief power” as Bush and Chency would call it) or Thoreau.  Or someone who worries that the US may destroy itself and the planet through mad wars (we have poisoned Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with depleted uranium in the two Gulf Wars;  many of our soldiers come back with illness from these wars or produce children with unique birth defects; others  go to live on our streets for the next say 50 years; the U.S. trashed international and domestic law (torturing and spying) as Mansfield commends; and we nearly just became - and still run the danger if Obama fails - of becoming a tyranny.  But Harvey says, there is no need  prayerfully to reconsider our imperialism… Manliness (the title of Harvey’s recent book) and thinking sometimes go separate ways. 

           It is startling that an ostensibly  value-free political “science” at least in Lake’s seemingly uncontroversial thesis actually aligns itself sharply with Mansfield and speaks stridently though without self-awareness against Lincoln and Thoreau.

           A second war: the US is a democracy fighting the Communists in Vietnam.  “22.  North Vietnam [the winner] v.  Thailand, South Vietnam, United States,  Kampuchea/Cambodia, Republic of Korea, Australia and Phillipines.”

Many of us in the United States, and the whole world, sympathized with the peasant Vietnamese movement fighting to drive out the enormously armed American aggressor which dropped napalm – the one side that did – on helpless villagers.  In addition, the United States was party to the 1954 Geneva Accords which then became the highest law of the land according to Article 6 section 2 of the American Constitution (“the Supremacy Clause”).  But Eisenhower said: we cannot allow the elections of 1956 to go forward – though they were mandated by those Accords and America is supposedly for democracy – because Ho Chi Minh, leader of the movement against brutal French colonialism (the George Washington of Vietnam) would win. 

           Eisenhower was busy setting up our puppet Ngo Dinh Diem, a  Catholic (the Catholics are a minority in Vietnam) and a tyrant  who had been living in the United States in “South Vietnam.”  But was South Vietnam a legitimate state, Lake might have asked?  Look at  Lake’s phrasing: South Vietnam is a regime made by American imperialism; the Geneva Accords and Eisenhower’s telling phrase vanish.  Is this perhaps a value-free judgment? In Lake’s version, political “science” is but an ornament of American government at its most aggressive, destructive (and increasingly self-destructive) moments. 

      Worse yet, this kind of quantitative political “science” – enchanted with graphs and numbers - also contributes to and provides a fig-leaf for policy advice.  If democracies are strong in conflicts with dictatorships, surely the Vietnam war was not a bad venture.  Surely, the war advice from advisors, Democrat and Republican, from reactionary think-tanks is “scientifically grounded” for Iraq –  though the emptiness and lying are now exposed – and right now in Afghanistan.   See here.  This sort of political “science” does not just follow American politics (though one whistles the themes of American Presidencies here); it reinforces aimless American belligerence.  In such wars, every day of American occupation breeds new enemies.   A large military footprint – “powerful pacifists” – has already led to American economic collapse and will lead, if Obama follows General McChrystal,  to defeat in Afghanistan, strengthening the Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaida, and making ordinary Americans both less safe (or “secure” in the idiom of political science)  and destitute.  To their credit, most political scientists in international relations (sadly, Robert Keohane aside) rightly opposed the Iraq war.  But government funded political "science," entering the policy process through think tank experts, egged it on in the media, reiterating more war, more…This is the dead machine of reactionary policy advice.  This is policy-influential political “science.”

       Yesterday Glenn Greenwald cited a 2004 Rumsfeld report on terrorism done by non-neo-con, non- Straussian officials here.  It made the obvious  point that the American occupation of Afghanistan breeds resistance to us. Recall the American officer in Afghanistan who could speak the local language and asked a farmer if he had seen any foreign troops.  “Yes, you” the farmer replied.  Lake’s political science echoes the ideological confusion of the American soldier (whatever else the Taliban are in Afghanistan, they are the home team).  One doesn’t need rocket science to get this, but only a pseudo-science can perpetuate the soldier’s silly question and deep-six the answer.  In any case, Rumsfeld buried the study.  In reprinting it, Greenwald underlined the reactionary policy claque that Lake’s political “science” at a slightly higher level, reflects and “justifies”:

           “The debate over Afghanistan -- or, more accurately, the multi-pronged effort to pressure Obama into escalating -- is looking increasingly familiar, i.e., like the "debate" over Iraq.  The New York Times is publishing articles filled with quotes from anonymous war advocates.  Permanent war-justifier Michael O'Hanlon is regularly featured in ‘news accounts’ as he all but blames Obama for increasing combat deaths due to his failure to escalate the moment the military demanded it.  The New Republic is churning out pro-war screeds.  Every option is on the proverbial table except one:  not fighting the war.  And there's a widening gap between (a) public opinion (which sees Afghanistan as "turning into another Vietnam" and which opposes more troops, with 49% favoring a full or partial withdrawal) and (b) the virtual unanimity of establishment punditry which, as always, is cheerleading for the war.  The only difference is that, with a Democratic President, there seems to be more Democratic and progressive support for this war (though there was, of course, plenty of that for Iraq, too).”

       “The primary rationale for remaining -- and escalating -- in Afghanistan is the same all-purpose justification offered for virtually everything the U.S. has done since 2001:   Terrorism.  Apparently, the way to solve the Terrorist threat is by sending 60,000 more American troops into a Muslim country and committing to at least five more years of war there.  That, so the pro-escalation reasoning goes, will make us safer.”

      Note the role of O’Hanlon of Brookings, the New Republic and many Democrats (even Hillary Clinton) who are, once again and without self insight or self-criticism pro-war.  As Jack Balkin points out for crimes of war including torture, the Democrats confirm and make into a regime.  The bipartisanship of war crimes, one might say.  By extension,  an ever more crazy war making regime, where even borrowing more money from China as a way to make more war, feeding the banks and providing no relief on foreclosures for ordinary people is still the basic course even under Obama.  This  defines American policy as  a slightly more cautious version of the   neoconservatives (Obama does not speak of a “war on terror,” has treated Iran with respect and helped generate protest from below there, etc.; yet he has so far escalated in Afghanistan and stands on a precipice).  This is and has been the American way of war.  This is why all the rest of the world gapes at American militarism in horror, and treats Obama's return to respect for other nations and negotiations, especially his recongition of Palestine and Iran, as a sign of peace. Yet even Leslie Gelb, former head of the Council on Foreign Relations, whose self-criticism about Iraq I cited here, does not “understand” Obama’s thinking. 

          Obama, however, isn’t foolishly and reflexively pro-escalation given especially the fraud of the Karzai government.  Since  Bush created Karzai's presidency and our guns and Blackwater (now Xe) corporation sustain it, Obama is forcing Karzai into power-sharing with the opposition – a second election - and at least a fig-leaf of legitimacy.   Still Obama goes his own way.  What other President in American history has taken a time out from a self-destructive war – a neo-colonial occupation - for 5 or 6 weeks to consider whether there is a “partner for peace” and some other way to proceed?  He is thinking about whether escalation will doom him as Johnson also doomed himself in Vietnam, destroy his domestic program which is compared to others decent, and cripple his Presidency.  Some Democratic  politicians like Russ Feingold  and mainstream columnists like Bob Herbert are rightly  skeptical.  But the machine is there - the non-cooperating Republicans and the bellicose Lieberman – the neo-con authoritarians - step right up to support him.  This is the bipartisanship of belligerence which will sound the death-knell of his Presidency.  Obama is wary.  The pause in escalated occupation is unique in modern American history.  Not going along with the standard warmongering is even better. But in this context, Lake’s and the “democratic peace hypothesis’s political “science,”  it should be underlined, gives pseudoscientific legitimacy to  that warmongering.  It is a fig-leaf for aggression.

         Lake’s table cites five other wars in which  Israel, a democracy, defeats the ignoble Arab tyrannies. This is one side of the story (a distorted version in various ways), but there is another, motr glaring one which Lake simply avoids.   The first war is “15 Palestine 1948.   Israel v. Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, UAR and Lebanon [despite the name, note the lack of mention of Palestinians].”     “ 22.   The six day war of 1967     Israel v.  Egypt/UAR and Syria.”  25.  “Israeli-Egyptian 1968   Israel v. Egypt.”   “29.  The Yom Kippur War 1973.  Israel v. Egypt/UAR, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.” “30. Israel-Syria (Lebanon) 1982   Israel v. Syria.   

         If we look at the Palestianians dispossessed in the original setting up of Israel – once again, it was the one place where Europe and America would allow the victims of the holocaust to settle - and occupied once again, after the 1967 war, we will feel – I feel as a Jew – very queasy.  What about the recent War in Gaza?  Is that another democratic war on this accounting?  How may one consider the occupier democratic?  Certainly not in terms of its rule in the territories (Gaza has no airport and individuals cannot flee from being shot up without Israeli permission )?   There is now an elected Hamas regime in Gaza divided from the West Bank (expansionists in the government of Israel can play divide and rule between Gaza and the West Bank).  Would Lake call  this a war between democracies (or of a democracy with a transitional democracy as the political science idiom of Snyder and Mansfield, Electing to Fight now is)?   Didn’t Israel, alone among occupiers, prevent civilians from leaving?  The Goldstone Report, based on hearings led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge who helped to end apartheid peacefully and is a Zionist (he is on the board of Hebrew University), names Israeli government and Hamas war crimes.  1300 dead, 300 children, the place ravaged, on one side; one seven year old Israeli child and 12 others murdered by Hamas rockets on the other. (See the fear and anger of Michael Oren  here)  The disproportional crimes of Gaza have forced a shift of perspective among many.  

         A largely helpless people has been occupied, driven out, then after 1967 re-colonized  and brutalized.  Thinking of Jews in Europe; I sometimes refer to the Palestinians as the Jews of the occupied territories (some 68 Israeli high school graduates have recently refused to serve in an occupying army and  face jail.).  Unwittingly, Lake sides easily – without noticing the Palestinians – with the reactionary and self-destructive (for ordinary Israelis) state of Israel. 

        Could not political science or at least sound political knowledge motivated by decency help produce some reasonable settlement between Palestine and Israel?  But facing down Israeli reaction – the de facto attempt to create a “greater Israel” and expel the Palestinians from the occupied territories – is a prerequisite of any decent settlement.  See A darkness unto the nations here.   But Obama is a long way ahead of political “science,” even if his efforts have been frustrated (it seems), on this. American Jews wisely overwhelmingly support Obama’s initiative; sadly, in Israel, racism toward Obama is now high among politicians and in the press and approval of Obama stood recently at 4%.   Lake’s political “science” in this respect does not  echo  Imperial politics; given the initiatives of new regime, it trails obsoletely and harmfully behind it.  Better to  read the mainstream newspapers…

       These are 7  doubtful cases out of 30, where the ethics alleged by Lake are the opposite of the truth.  But there are others.  “21.  Second Kashmir war  India  v. Pakistan.”  India occupies mainly Muslim Kashmir (it was supposed to have been the K in  Pakistan) and rules it with great brutality (see here).  Why the first Kashmir war or the three other wars between India and Pakistan are not on the list (it would at least make Lake’s number of cases 33 – and by now it should be clear that he needs every single one…).  There are three more (neo)colonial wars “4.  Anglo-Persian 1856-57  United Kingdom v. Persia” “5. Sino-French    France v. China” and “8. Boxer Rebellion     Japan, United Kingdom, USSR[sic]/Russia, France v. China.”  That the USSR appears on this list 19 years before the Russian Revolution that created it must rely on a method of reporting facts – an emphasis in “empirical” political science – known only to Professor Lake.  

         There are now 11 -  more than one third of his total number of cases.  We might also examine his “number 7,”  the war of 1898 between the United States and Spain. There, the United States aggressed – “Remember the Maine!” was another phony story about the alleged Spanish sinking of an American ship in Havana harbor – and then seized two colonies, Cuba and the Philippines, committing wanton and genocidal slaughter in the last case.  But as we will see in the next post, even World War I proves to be an elusive case on close examination (see also What’s wrong with the democratic-peace hypothesis here). The others are just less obvious.   That Lake has a group of cases that gives any support to a social science of his sort remains to be shown. 

       Now there is an important  truth in Kant’s basic distinction (and in Michael Doyle’s original version during the Cold War of this hypothesis).   Kant aptly contrasted monarchs who frivolously waste the lives of their subjects in “the pleasure party” of war (one might think of “chicken hawks” like Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld here) with republics in which citizens can limit such abuse.  Kant mistakenly imagined that commerce would provide a new and peaceful way of ordering the world (one might consider the slave trade, for example, or the American arms trade to wonder about this thesis).  But the core idea is that a republic or a democracy does not require protest from below as in the case of Vietnam or before the Iraq war to attenuate imperial elite purposes.  But without large changes to limit oligarchy  (for instance, those suggested in John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, pp. 46-50, or my Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?, ch. 5), parliamentary forms do not equate to citizen influence on war.  It would take serious argument about the cases - a long, difficult and doubtful course - rather than the list that for Lake, without discussion, constitutes “empirical” substantiation, to show that American parliamentary regime is closer to a Kantian republic – deterring imperial wars by something other than mass protest from below – rather than a near cousin to the monarchs who engaged, just as frivolously but perhaps less addictively, in “the pleasure party of war."

*Gandhi speaks rightly of the nonviolence of the strong.  He means that one must be prepared to suffer for civil disobedience.  And though one could fight, one must be a soldier like Badshah Khan:  prepared to resist to the death by personal and collective noncooperation, but not to kill. See Badshah Khan: the Martin Luther King of the Pathans here.  Lake and the endorsers of “powerful pacificism” nostrum do not know of this.