Saturday, May 27, 2006

America’s Gurkhas

by Bernie Quigley - to The Free Market News Network, 5/27/06

As American military bases begin to grow in Bulgaria and Romania lets recall the words of America’s greatest ambassador, George Kennan, that this policy initiative was “a mistake of historic proportions,” pronounced while Secretary of State Madeline Albright danced and laughed the night away with a flower in her mouth. Worth recalling that no one pushed this policy more vigorously than Al Gore as Vice President.

One can begin to see just why China and Russia go after their near frontiers as vigorously as John F. Kennedy went after the Soviet missiles in Cuba. The Berlin Wall had barely fallen when 90 U.S. Senators rushed to send American bases to Russia’s border with a new line of nukes.

This week the hysterical chorus of the mainstream press loves Al Gore again because of his environmental views; this the same Al Gore who after writing Earth in the Balance signed papers to build a million or so Buicks in China. I would like to echo Kennan’s sentiments as he is not here to do so. John Kenneth Galbraith agreed and so did every other great foreign policy mind at a time of petty governance. And then we had allies and friends in the world and influence. Now we do not. Now we do not even have an army to face down the Russkie, “toe-to-toe,” as Slim Pickens put it in Dr. Strangelove, as he rode a thermo-nuke out of the bomb bay of a B-52 like Pecos Bill riding the cyclone

In this policy design there are nuclear policies and defense priorities. At the time the 90 Senators voted, only Jesse Helms raised the voice of concern. As the Soviet curtain fell, America was on the rise with Rottweilers in the back yard, Glock 9s under the driver’s seat and a millennialist vision of the Dow at 35,000, Starbucks in Red Square & Jesus too. Do they love Al Gore because they are all 55 to 60 years old and can think of nothing new; can tolerate nothing new and so recall all things past which will come again if only in their dreams? This is the Viagra generation, spiraling downward in panic and impotence. In youth, a generation in contempt of the old; in old age afraid of the young.

Post Cold War, the new idea of those at State and at the Pentagon (while they were still in early planning to jump start the new millennium with the invasion of Iraq) was to drop American soldiers down from Germany to permanent bases in more relevant positions of the New American Empire. This week the new Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert visited the White House, as one commentator said, for the confirmation of his coronation. That is exactly it. Ehud Olmert: He the King of Greater Israel (and we, His Majesty's colonial and provincial servants). Meanwhile, Australia’s John Howard, who had the misfortune to be in Washington at about the same time, was given gruff back door treatment.

We are now an Israeli-based society as Tom DeLay and the Christian Zionists have seen it in cosmic prophecy and as his NEOCON visionaries have explained it to him. (Those of us who get our religion from Lost and Neil Young and The Church of Johnny Cash and Mother Earth are only and obscure, confused and esoteric interior cult.) In this new Empire, Australia, like England, is hardly a secondary American tribe. Australia and England are now America’s Brigade of Gurkhas, noble warriors committed to defense of the foreign Fatherland whenever and wherever they are called to duty (but tribal and regressive . . . don't use the good silver.).

But has anyone noticed a surprising and sudden strain of competence in the current White House . . . a centrist immigration policy which alienates Richard Viguerie and the Christian Right; Laura Bush dispatched to the Sunday talk shows to denounce the Constitutional Amendment for gay marriage; Blair and Bush admitting errors in Iraq? It has to be coming from family fixer, James A. Baker, most competent of administrators from the Reagan era, who is now once again lending a hand to miscreant son. Rove and the current White House incumbents are incapable of this kind of competence. Baker will be needed. Coming up the Democrats have Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Wes Clark and seven pit bulls, the Fighting Dems of Texas. A formidable team is assembling. For the sake of our country I am glad Baker is there.

Key to any rising Democrat today is pragmatic intelligence and authenticity. In a time of crisis people seek authenticity. They need to get to the core of problems and find individuals with the character and solutions to solve them. This is a change from “issues” oriented politics. We are even seeing up here in the mountains of New England a move to authenticity. In Vermont, the fiery Independent Bernie Sanders and the Republican General Martha Rainville are both authentic individuals but are as different as day and night in their political orientation. Yet both are likely to win their upcoming races.

General Clark as bought a higher level of leadership to the Democrats and to the country and he has raised the standard of political dialog, bringing courtesy and respect into the arena. He also binds a new generation of under-25s to war veterans, helping to develop a new attitude in this country toward the armed forces; an attitude toward duty, dignity and responsibility which we have not seen in decades. It speaks to a new age, a new generation and a new turning of the political culture. It is a new beginning.

Not that it is any of my business, but I guess I might have wanted to ask Vice President Gore, “Does every Chinese need a Buick?” In an age of environmental concerns in which Al Gore claims relevance as a swami, that would be 1,313,973,713 more Buicks in the world. And a Harley and a Ski-Doo and a second house on Lake Michigan? Do they still even have Buicks?

Sounds stupid and regressive, but a thought which might have come from the remarkable crowd I used to have breakfast with at DuBrow’s Cafeteria on 7th Avenue in New York City before it was called Avenue of the Americas. Old Jews who spoke Russian, Yiddish, English, Hebrew and German all in a sentence. Men of sense and sensibility and passion and vast experience. Ed Koch, who as mayor of New York at the time, came back from a visit to China with visions of thousands of bike riders pouring like a river over the Brooklyn Bridge in place of cars. But that was in days when New York City people including myself felt themselves unique in the world and a tribe apart and would never have dreamed of electing someone as their Senator who was not one of their own.